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5 Unexpected Uses for Canned Pumpkin

For the past few years, I’ve been kicking off November by buying a case of canned pumpkin. My pumpkin-palooza started when my local Whole Foods was moving to a larger location, and after weeks of clearance sales, all that was left was a case of canned pumpkin. (It was the middle of summer and apparently no one was in a pumpkin mood yet.)
So in addition to pumpkin pie, we reveled in pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bread and other pumpkin treats all fall and winter.
But when the recipe calls for a cup of pumpkin, what do you do with the rest of the can? (Show of hands for everyone who discovered the moldy remains of a can of pumpkin hanging out in the back of the fridge.)

Never fear, pumpkin fans! I have not had a moldering mound of pumpkin in ages once I decided to put it in darn near everything. Here are a few of my favorite things that are made even better with pumpkin. (Remember, we’re talking canned pure pumpkin, not pie filling, which is full of sugar.)
Chili: Add a big dollop of pumpkin to your favorite chili recipe to add body, color and a very slight sweetness that can mellow out the spices.
Boxed macaroni and cheese mix: I am constantly experimenting with boxed mac and cheese to make it healthier, tastier and just more interesting because it’s a cheap and easy meal. Instead of butter and milk mixed with the cheese powder, I’ve long been using an equal amount of plain yogurt, but I recently used the same amount of pumpkin puree and the results were fantastic. I also added a dash of sage and nutmeg to make it fancy.
Indian skillet meals: I’m a big fan of Indian simmer sauces, which I like to pour over a big skillet of broccoli florets and sliced chicken breast. The addition of pumpkin puree makes the results even creamier and more substantial.
Risotto: Butternut squash stirred intro risotto is a popular addition, but you can easily substitute pumpkin for a similar flavor and rich orange color.
Enchiladas: There are a few ways you can incorporate pumpkin into your favorite enchilada recipe — you can mix it into the enchilada sauce or it can be part of the filling. Equal parts refried beans and pumpkin seasoned with a big hit of chili powder make for a creamy and nutritious vegetarian enchilada. Or try this recipe!

Other Quick Ideas to Use Up That Canned Pumpkin

  • Use it wherever you’d use mashed bananas or applesauce in a recipe for a fall twist.
  • If you’re into making your own hummus, add a little pumpkin puree and warming spices, such as ginger and chipotle for a Southwestern pumpkin hummus.
  • Try substituting pumpkin for any or all of the oil, water, or milk to pump(kin) up your pancake or waffle mix or recipe. Throw in some pumpkin pie spice for good measure.
  • Here’s a Pumpkin-Stuffed Shells recipe we featured recently.

What’s your favorite “pumpkin surprise” recipe? —Gail

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1 Comment
  1. Kalina says:

    I love pumpkin, Thanks for good idea how to eat it.