The great pumpkin
Who else believes that October is synonymous with pumpkin? This rather large round orange gourd is commonly served up as pumpkin pie or featured in other baked goods; we even have a spice blend named after it (pumpkin pie spice). However, did you know that pumpkin is extremely versatile and can be used in both savory and sweet applications?
With pumpkin being high in micronutrients like vitamin A and C, a good source of Vitamin E, folate, iron and low in energy (calories), it is a great addition to your diet (1). In fact, 1 cup of cooked pumpkin contains approximately 245% of you daily recommended intake for Vitamin A (1).
You may be wondering, how do I and can I use a pumpkin in my cooking? Luckily for us, pumpkin can be found in many different forms: from the whole gourd, to cooked, canned and pureed. The easiest and most convenient option is plain/unsweetened canned pureed pumpkin. Yet, for those who like a cooking project, you can also prepare your own puree. The Minimalist Baker has a simple step by step guide on how you can cook your own pumpkin (How to Roast Pumpkin (& Make Purée) | Minimalist Baker Recipes).
Now moving on to the delicious section of this article: the recipes. As highlighted before, pumpkin is commonly seen in dessert applications but it is also a great addition to savory dishes. Its creamy texture when pureed provides richness to a dish without the need for extra cream and its bright orange color adds visual appeal. One of my favorite fall soups is this rich and flavorful curry pumpkin soup (Simple Curry Pumpkin Soup Recipe | Ree Drummond | Food Network). Warm and comforting on a chilly fall day, this soup is velvety smooth from both the pumpkin and coconut milk and bursting with flavor from the warm spices and aromatics. Another delicious savory way to use pumpkin is to add it to your pasta sauces. Try making this pumpkin and sage alfredo pasta sauce (Pumpkin Sage Alfredo Pappardelle with Brown Butter – A Cozy Kitchen) or this dairy-free mac’n’cheese recipe (Vegan Pumpkin Mac ‘n’ Cheese | Minimalist Baker Recipes).
Being an October staple, I of course have to end the article with some creative and new sweet pumpkin recipes. Using our reliable can of pumpkin puree, you can essentially transform any typical baked good into a “pumpkin-ifed” version by adding in ~1cup of the puree & 1-2 tsp of pumpkin spice to the recipe. Instead, try adding 1/3 cup of pumpkin puree and ½ tsp of pumpkin spice to your next bowl of oatmeal for a play on pumpkin pie (don’t forget to sprinkle it with toasted pecans). Or add ½ cup of pumpkin puree, 2 tsp pumpkin spice to 1 cup of vanilla Greek yogurt to make a protein rich pumpkin pie dip.