Now that it’s finally autumn, everyone is idolizing the “it” food of the season: pumpkin. And with its vibrant orange hue and warm flavor, it’s easy to see why. This superstar of the squash family is versatile enough to be used in both sweet and savory dishes. To top it off, it’s rich in antioxidants, vitamin A, and fiber. What’s not to love?
Pumpkin is often used as a pie or latte ingredient. However, you might be surprised to learn that it also works well in pastas, sandwiches, and chili – just to name a few. The multipurpose nature of pumpkin presents the perfect excuse to try out a new recipe. Get the most of this experience by picking pumpkins at your local orchard or farm. Otherwise, canned pumpkin is easy to find. If possible, choose organic.
Need some inspiration? Keep reading for 10 surprising ways to cook with pumpkin. Autumn has never tasted this good.
10 Clever Ways To Use Pumpkin
It goes without saying that a sandwich isn’t complete without a side of fries. Unfortunately, traditional potato fries made in a fryer aren’t the healthiest. They’re full of trans-fats, cholesterol, and calories. This year, try baking pumpkin fries instead. This seasonal alternative doubles as a scrumptious nutrient-rich side dish.
Directions To Make
- To start, skin a mini pumpkin and cut it into strips.
- Toss in a bowl with olive or coconut oil and spices.
- Rosemary, oregano, and basil are excellent options.
- Add cumin and turmeric for an extra kick.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft and crispy.
- Top it off with a maple glaze for full-fledged autumn vibes.
2. Stuffed Shells
Thanks to the light flavor of pumpkin, you can easily use it in pasta dishes like stuffed shells. After all, Italian food holds a special place in the hearts of many food lovers. Pumpkin makes it even tastier.
To Make Stuffed Shells
- Mix a 15-ounce can of pumpkin puree with 2 cups ricotta cheese.
- 1 ¼ cups grated parmesan cheese, and spices.
- Fill cooked stuffed shells with the mixture and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F.
- Sprinkle cheese on top and bake for another 10 minutes.
3. Pasta Sauce
Pumpkin puree can also be used as a savory sauce for pasta like macaroni or penne. The creamy consistency omits the need for half & half or milk, paving the way for a nutritious dish. It’s also wonderful for dairy-free and vegan diets.
Directions To Make
- Pumpkin sauce, sauté onion, minced garlic, and sage in coconut oil or butter.
- Blend in a food processor with 1 cup pumpkin until smooth.
- Add spices like cayenne, rosemary, and nutmeg.
- For a thinner consistency, add a few teaspoons of almond or soy milk.
- Toss with pasta and top with roasted pumpkin or butternut squash seeds.
4. Baked Goods
Pumpkin is one of the best kept secrets of vegan eats. Because it offers the same binding ability as eggs, it is often used as an egg substitute in baked goods. This is also a delightful way to add fall notes to treats like brownies, cakes, and muffins.
To use pumpkin as an egg substitute, replace each egg in a recipe with ¼ cup of canned pumpkin puree. This is useful for accommodating egg allergies, taste preferences, and a forgetful moment at the grocery store.
5. Pancakes And Waffles
The binding ability of pumpkin doesn’t stop at baked goods. It can also serve as an egg substitute in pumpkins and waffles. Again, replace every egg with ¼ cup canned pumpkin puree. Amp up the fall flavor by topping it off with local raw honey or maple syrup.
6. Enchilada Sauce
Pumpkin has proven to be a transformational ingredient for classic Italian food. But did you know that it can be used in Mexican cuisine, too?
To Make Zesty Enchilada Sauce
- Blend a 15-ounce can of pumpkin puree with 3 garlic cloves, 3 cups water or broth, ½ cup brown sugar, spices, salt and pepper.
- If desired, add and blend 1 chopped sweet onion, 1 chopped hot pepper and 1 teaspoon chili powder or cayenne.
- Adjust these ingredients to your liking.
- Add to your favorite enchilada recipe, top with cheese, and bake according to recipe’s directions.
Switch things up by using pumpkin puree as a filling for Mexican food. Its smooth and creamy consistency is similar to avocado and works well in quesadillas. Try cutting up the quesadillas for crowd-friendly party appetizers.
Don’t be afraid to combine your favorite quesadilla ingredients with pumpkin puree. Lean meat, cheese, and veggies are all delicious ideas. Press on a panini grill or cook over low heat in a pan until the tortilla is crispy.
Nothing says “cozy” like a big bowl of warm chili. This popular meal is filling, beginner-friendly, and easy to customize. And when you’re an autumn-obsessed foodie, pumpkin chili is a seasonal must-have.
Transform your favorite chili by adding 2-3 cups of pumpkin puree. Use ingredients according to desired flavor, allergies, and dietary restrictions. Bulk it up with black beans or lean ground turkey and chicken. Emphasize the autumn spirit by adding seasonal ingredients like sweet potato, butternut squash, and cumin.
9. Grilled Cheese
You can also use pumpkin to give grilled cheese a seasonal makeover. This easy-to-make meal is loved by adults and kids alike, earning it the title as an ideal family fall dish.
Start with a healthy bread like 100% whole grain or whole wheat with added fiber. Make the grilled cheese with pumpkin (canned or fresh) and cheese (Gruyere, Provolone, and Muenster). Take it up a notch with arugula, kale, apple, and cinnamon.
Hummus is jam-packed with plant-based protein and healthy fats. For added nutrients and flavor, mix a dollop of pumpkin puree with plain hummus. Sweeten it up with cinnamon and nutmeg. For a savory zest, bring in rosemary, oregano, and cumin. Use it as a dip for pita bread, tortilla chips, or veggies. You can even use it as a sandwich spread for instant fall flavor.
Thanks to these 10 off-beat ideas, you can make the most out of autumn. Remember, don’t be afraid to experiment and have fun with these recipes. Happy (healthy) eating!