Fall, especially November, in the City is pumpkin month. Restaurants, coffee shops, and even diners are bursting with pumpkin muffins, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin ice cream, and even pumpkin chai lattes. With all of these limited-time pumpkins products pushed on us everywhere we go, it’s hard to resist. Especially because pumpkin is just so delicious and so hard to prepare yourself. I thought carving a pumpkin for Halloween was hard. Cutting it up a full pumpkin to roast is just impossible. And in a New York City kitchen, who has the room?
Luckily pumpkin manufacturers have developed the greatest thing since sliced bread. Canned pumpkin!! I’m not talking about pumpkin pie mix, which is loaded with sugar and is already seasoned. I’m referring to pumpkin puree, purely the good stuff. Most of us only buy canned pumpkin for Thanksgiving, but there is so much more you can do with it, all season long.
Why have you done a good thing?
Pumpkins are a nutritional super food, loaded with carotenoids, which give them their brightorange color. Carotenoids are antioxidants that protect our bodies from dangerous free radicals, which are linked with cancers and eye diseases. Pumpkins also contain high amounts of iron, zinc and fiber, which are important for red blood cell development and bowel health respectively.
Even pumpkin seeds are nutritious. Pumpkin seeds are high in essential fatty acids and phytosterols, which have been shown to lower cholesterol levels and maintain heart health. Pumpkin seeds also are a great source of protein, as well as vitamin E and A, which act as antioxidants and boost immunity.
And for just $.75 cents – $1.50 per can, canned pumpkin is a great bang for your bite and wallet!!!
So what can I do with it besides make pumpkin pie?
I personally could eat pureed pumpkin straight from the can I love it so much. However, since most people don’t like their pumpkin straight up, we wanted to set out to show how to use canned pumpkin for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert too! You can use these recipes while you are entertaining houseguests for Thanksgiving or if you are like me and just love pumpkin.
Breakfast: Baked Pumpkin French Toast (serves 6)
1 cup 1% milk
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
1 15 oz can pureed pumpkin
Whole wheat challah bread (raisin if available) or brioche bread, cubed with crusts cut off
Pure maple syrup
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat eggs with milk, spices, sugar, vanilla until combined. Add pumpkin puree and mix until smooth. Into a greased casserole dish, add cubed bread. Pour pumpkin mixture over bread. Bake for about 30 minutes or until pumpkin has set (like a soufflé consistency). Serve with a drizzle of maple syrup over top. **Note – if entertaining with this dish, bake in individual ramekins for a nice presentation.
Lunch: Roasted Butternut Squash, Parsnip, Carrot and Pumpkin Soup (serves 6-8)
1 pound carrots, peeled
1 pound parsnips, peeled
1 small butternut squash, peeled and seeded
1 tbsp olive oil
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp black pepper
3-4 cups low-sodium chicken or veggie stock
1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cut the carrots, parsnips, and butternut squash in 1 to 1 1/4-inch cubes. Place all the cut vegetables in a single layer on 2 sheet pans. Drizzle them with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss well. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender.
In a large saucepan, heat 3 cups of stock. Coarsely puree vegetables a food processor fitted with the steel blade (or use a handheld blender). Add pumpkin puree and stock and puree again. Pour the soup back into the pot and season, to taste. The soup should be thick but not like a vegetable puree, so add more chicken stock and/or water until it's the consistency you like.
Dinner: Pumpkin Stuffed Shells (serves 4-6)
1 box of stuffed shells
1 28 oz can of pureed pumpkin
16 oz low-fat ricotta cheese
1 ½ tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground nutmeg
1 ½ cups shredded parmesan cheese
½ cup chopped walnuts (or breadcrumbs if allergic)
½ chopped fresh sage leaves
1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2) Boil water for shells. Salt water generously. Cook penne until slightly before al dente. Drain shells and put in a greased baking or casserole dish.
3) For the pumpkin filling, combine pureed pumpkin, ricotta cheese, cinnamon, nutmeg, ½ cup parmesan cheese (reserve ½ cup of cheese for topping).
4) Gently, with a spoon (or pastry bag if you have it) fill the shells with pumpkin mixture. Top stuffed shells with chopped walnuts and remaining parmesan cheese. Bake for 25 minutes or until cheese has melted and slightly browned.
5) When done baking, top with fresh sage leaves. Serve hot.
Dessert: Pumpkin Mousse (inspired by Barefoot Contessa) (serves 8-10)
1/2 cup 1% milk
½ cup of half and half
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
1 cup brown sugar
6 egg yolks
½ cup cold water
2 packets of unflavored gelatin
2 ripe bananas, mashed
2 cup heavy whipping cream
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup crushed Graham crackers
Heat the half-and-half, milk, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water until hot, about 5 minutes. Whisk the egg yolks in another bowl, stir some of the hot pumpkin into the egg yolks to heat them, then pour the egg-pumpkin mixture back into the double boiler and stir well. Heat the mixture over the simmering water for another 4 to 5 minutes, until it begins to thicken, stirring constantly. You don't want the eggs to scramble. Remove from the heat.
Dissolve the gelatin in 1/2 cup cold water. Add the dissolved gelatin, banana to the pumpkin mixture and mix well. Set aside to cool. Whip the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add the granulated sugar and vanilla and continue to whisk until you have firm peaks. Fold half the whipped cream into the cooled pumpkin mixture. Top with graham crackers and serve chilled.
**Note: As you can see, this dessert is more decadent than usual. Since it’s the holiday season, we figured we’d give you a fun treat. But always remember your portion control.
Other ideas for pumpkin puree:
1) Bake with pumpkin replacing half the fat with pumpkin puree
2) Combine pumpkin with Greek yogurt for breakfast
3) Mix pumpkin puree into whole grain pancake mix
4) Mix pumpkin puree with low-fat cream cheese to serve as dip with graham crackers or ginger cookies
5) Mix pumpkin puree into mashed potatoes
The possibilities are endless. Have fun and experiment with this absolutely delicious superfood. If you come up with something creative, please share it with us! From one pumpkin lover to another, you can’t ever have enough ways to eat pumpkin.