Zest for Food: Pumpkin is good for more than just pie

  • Oatmeal pumpkin muffins Photo by Marie Cassady

For the Ledger-Transcript
Published: 11/18/2021 9:36:44 AM

When we think of pumpkin, especially this time of year, we automatically think pumpkin pie.

Whether you make your own puree from fresh pumpkins, or buy the cans, it is plentiful and inexpensive right now. Our vet prescribed a spoonful of pumpkin for our dog Mimsy every morning, and since it goes bad before she finishes a can, I am always looking for ways to use it up.

These are some of my favorites. Take advantage of the Thanksgiving sale prices, stock up and try these different uses for pumpkin.

Oatmeal Pumpkin Muffins

Pumpkin bread is a standard, but here is a different and healthier twist. I keep a bag of them in the freezer and pull them out for a quick breakfast treat, or with a cup of tea for an afternoon snack.

■½ cup all-purpose flour

■½ cup whole wheat flour

■½ cup white sugar

■1 teaspoon salt

■¾ teaspoon baking powder

■½ teaspoon baking soda

■1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

■½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

■½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

■1 ¼ cups pumpkin puree

■½ cup milk

■2 eggs, beaten

■¼ cup maple syrup

■¾ cup quick cooking rolled oats

■Pepitas (optional garnish)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray nine cups in a standard-size muffin pan or six cups in a large muffin pan with cooking spray. Whisk all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a large bowl until combined.

Stir in pumpkin puree, milk, eggs and maple syrup until batter is smooth, fold in oats. Scoop batter into prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle with additional oats, and/or optional pepitas, pressing in slightly.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Bake about 30 minutes for standard size and 40 minutes for large. Cool for five minutes before removing from pan.

Roasted Garlic Pumpkin Hummus

This fast and easy appetizer is a pleasant change for fall. Play with the seasonings to get the perfect mix for you. Serve with pita bread, pita chips, naan, fresh veggie or apple slices.

■2 cloves garlic, roasted

■2 tablespoons olive oil

■15-ounce can chickpeas drained, reserving liquid, or 1 ½ cups dried cooked

⅔ cups pumpkin puree

■1 teaspoon ground cumin

■1 teaspoon smoked paprika

■2 teaspoons maple syrup

■2 tablespoons of the water drained from the chickpeas (aquafaba) or tap water

■Salt and pepper to taste

■Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

■Garnish ideas: chopped fresh cilantro, a drizzle of olive oil, toasted pine nuts, a sprinkle of paprika  or a combo.

To roast the garlic, place the olive oil and peeled garlic cloves in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside. Drain canned chickpeas, reserving liquid. Place chickpeas and all remaining ingredients in a food processor. Add the oil and garlic. Process until smooth. Adjust spices to your taste.

Pumpkin Herb Quinoa

If you are tired of the same old sides, give this a try, or add some dried cranberries and chopped nuts and serve on a bed of greens for an entrée salad.

■1 cup uncooked quinoa

■1 cup pumpkin puree

■1 tablespoon brown sugar

■2 teaspoons fresh thyme, very finely chopped

■Salt and pepper to taste

■Dried cranberries (optional)

Cook quinoa according to package directions. Stir in remaining ingredients, including dried cranberries if using. Heat through.

Pumpkin ChickpeaCoconut Curry

Pumpkin (kaddu) is the national vegetable of India. If you want to up the veggies and add more color, toss in some chopped fresh spinach when you turn down to simmer. This vegan dish is a one-pot dinner on its own, but I serve it over rice.

■1 yellow onion, roughly chopped

■1 cup carrots, chopped

■1 cup tomatoes, chopped

■15-ounce can of pumpkin puree

■½ cup chickpeas, cooked, or one 15-ounce can, rinsed and drained

■2 cloves garlic, minced

■1 tablespoon curry powder

■½ teaspoon ground ginger

■¼ teaspoon turmeric

■¼ teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (double if you like heat)

■½ teaspoon salt

■¼ teaspoon black pepper

■13.5-ounce can coconut milk (full-fat or light will work)

■1 cup water

■½ lime, cut into wedges

In a large pot, heat one tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the onion. Cook for three to five minutes, until it begins to soften. Add garlic and cook for one minute more.

Add the carrots and tomatoes; stir to combine. Add more oil to the pot if needed. Partially cover the pot; cook for five to eight minutes, until carrots become slightly tender. Add the pumpkin, chickpeas, curry powder, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne, salt and pepper. Stir until fully combined.

Add the coconut milk and water to the pot and mix well. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the carrots are fully tender. Add a lime wedge to each serving for a fresh squeeze.


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