Tips to Live By

Creative Pumpkin Recipes That Might Just "Squash" Your Traditional Favorites

Nov. 12, 2020 - Amanda Beaver

Fall is here, and that means pumpkin season is here, too. And while you may be most looking forward to enjoying a pumpkin spice latte or slice of pumpkin pie, there are plenty of other ways to get your pumpkin filling.

In fact, pumpkin is one of my absolute favorite ingredients to cook with in the fall, and I've already been brewing up some of my favorite pumpkin recipes in my kitchen.

Pumpkin is such a versatile ingredient because it takes on both sweet or savory flavors. We all know this squash (yes, it's a squash) pairs amazingly well with brown sugar and warming spices like cinnamon and cloves. But it also complements savory ingredients like Parmesan cheese and olive oil.

If you can't imagine pairing pumpkin with cheese, I want to shake up your world a little.

We can all bring to mind America's favorite pumpkin puree: Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin. It's easy to imagine beautiful orange pumpkins growing in a field for all of our thanksgiving pumpkin pies. But what if I told you that what was in that pumpkin puree can was actually squash? Dickenson squash, to be exact, a close relative of butternut squash. Maybe now you will believe me that pumpkin puree can taste great in savory recipes, too!

Cooking with pumpkin also adds a nutrition punch — just one serving (1/2 cup) of pumpkin puree has a whopping 250% of your recommended daily dose of vitamin A. It comes in the form of beta carotene, an antioxidant that also may benefit your skin and eyes. In addition, pumpkin is a good source of fiber and potassium.

If you're ready to take pumpkin season to the next level, here are some tips to get you started:

Which pumpkin is best for baking and cooking?

Whether baking or cooking, canned pumpkin is a great option. It's dense and creamy, making it the perfect addition to any pumpkin recipe. It's also inexpensive if you purchase the store brand, and is shelf-stable so you don't have to worry about it going bad when you procrastinate on making that homemade pumpkin pie you always wanted to make.

If you're feeling adventurous, making your own pumpkin puree isn't as difficult as you may think! It simply involves cutting a pumpkin in half, scooping out the seeds, roasting the pumpkin in a hot oven and then pureeing it in a food processor once it is cool.

BUT the key to a good DIY pumpkin puree is using the right pumpkin. The big carving pumpkins from the grocery store won't taste like anything. Instead, look for sugar pumpkins or pie pumpkins in the produce aisle. These cute little pumpkins will not only make a great seasonal decoration in your kitchen, but will also make a pumpkin puree like what is found in a can.

What are some savory pumpkin recipes to try this fall?

I am a bit obsessed with canned pumpkin and will shamelessly add it to just about anything.

A few of my favorite savory pumpkin recipes are:

  • Pumpkin black bean chili – Smoked paprika and cumin give this chili a savory flavor, while the pumpkin helps make it hearty and filling.

  • Pumpkin spice smoothie – A super-nutritious smoothie that provides both high-quality protein and an entire serving of veggies!

  • Pumpkin and red lentil soup – This simple recipe comes together in just 30 minutes! Garlic, ginger and curry powder give this soup amazing flavor. Use 1 tsp. dried ginger for a milder soup or 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger for a punch of flavor.

  • Pasta with creamy pumpkin sauce – A little bit of butter, garlic and milk make a luxuriously creamy sauce, taking this pasta to the next level. This pumpkin recipe is extra special to me because my fiancé and I made it together on one of our first dates!

What are some pumpkin-based dessert alternatives?

I hope I have convinced you to try pumpkin in savory dishes. If not, you still can't go wrong using pumpkin in desserts.

Pumpkin puree can lend tenderness to baked goods, allowing you to use less sugar and oil. For an everyday dessert in the fall, I love to make pumpkin blender muffins or pumpkin breakfast cookies.

Is there any way to make pumpkin pie a little bit healthier?

If you want to go all out this fall and make a pumpkin pie that is a little bit healthier, try nixing the sweetened condensed milk and use maple syrup and almond milk instead.

For a more nutritious crust, some almond flour can be substituted for all-purpose flour — and a crust made with pecans or walnuts would taste delicious with pumpkin, too. Using nuts in the crust also helps add some fiber and healthy fats!

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Categories: Tips to Live By