Post-pumpkin, a few tasty ideas

pumpkin oatmeal

Pumpkin is a warm, welcome addition to your morning bowl of oatmeal. Photo by Laura Groch

Halloween is over, but pumpkin is still with us. And will be with us through year end. And really beyond, because pumpkin is just too good not to eat more often than just in chilly weather.

It’s nutritious, full of beta-carotene, vitamin C and fiber, and you can use it in myriad cakes, pies, muffins and cookies — none of which I’m going to discuss here.

Instead, I’m going to suggest a few simple ways to use the rest of that can of pumpkin you will inevitably be faced with as the holidays demand more pumpkin recipes. Because I HATE to waste food. Really, really do.

(And speaking of wasting food, if you were brave enough to buy pumpkins to decorate for Halloween and are now trying to figure out what to do with them, just pierce them and/or slice them and bake as you would an acorn or butternut squash. Scoop out the cooked flesh and use as you would the contents of a can of pumpkin. Preferably you bought pie pumpkins with thick, meaty flesh, but even a for-show pumpkin bred for carving is still cookable and eatable. And don’t toss the seeds! Pull off as much pumpkin guts as you can, drizzle them with oil and salt, then bake on a tray in your toaster oven or on a pie plate in the regular oven for about a half-hour at 350 degrees, stirring once or twice. Yummy.)

But back to that partial can. Unless you’re baking a pie, which usually calls for a whole can of pumpkin, that recipe for muffins or whatever is going to use only a pawky half can or half cup. You could double or triple the recipe, but here are some other ways to put those stray spoonfuls to good use:

— This morning, for example, I stirred some into my oatmeal. A tablespoon or two gives it a lovely color, boosts the nutrients, and with the help of ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon, adds flavor.

pumpkin in chicken soup

A few spoonfuls of pumpkin puree in your soup adds a cheery color and subtle flavor — and extra nutrients. Photo by Laura Groch

— I heated a can of soup for lunch, and put in some pumpkin. Full-on pumpkin soup is made with a chicken broth base, so pumpkin in chicken soup isn’t so far-fetched. (And the color was beautiful.)

— For dinner, I’m reheating a vegetarian curry. And yes, I’m going to stir the last of the can into the sauce. It will add body and a bit of sweetness, not to mention more veggie wholesomeness.

About a quarter- or half-cup of pureed pumpkin (or more, whatever tastes good to you)  fits well into a lot of dishes that aren’t dessert: soups, stews, pot pies, chilis, even spaghetti sauce, to boost the nutrients and plump it up.

Mashed potatoes? I think yes, and mac and cheese, and potato pancake batter, not to mention regular pancakes. (Don’t overdo it on the latter, because the pancakes can get a little soggy.)

Blend it into your vinaigrette salad dressing? Why not? A few spoonfuls in your smoothie? Perfect. A warming flavor in the baked beans? Indeed.

And my dogs love a spoonful mixed with their kibble. Yours might too.

So experiment! Try new ways to use your pumpkin, and you might find it to be more of a year-round pantry staple than just an end-of-year visitor.

(c) copyright Laura Groch 2017

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