Poor Pumpkin!

I recently went through a big life change (hence my absence from foodists for the last little while, for which I promise to make up). Long story short I ended up having to move out of my old apartment. It’s amazing what you find when you’re clearing out your house, especially the kitchen.

All sorts of dry food from yesteryear that has been pushed to the unseen area in the back of the pantry—food that you don’t recall buying or food that makes you wonder what it the world you had intended to do with it. After going through many strange finds, I came across the canned pumpkin. This one I remember. I had bought it for Thanksgiving, intending to make my white chocolate pumpkin pie, but I never had any time for it. Now it’s Spring and no one wants to eat a pumpkin pie because they have had their fill in the fall and maybe even Christmas.

I stared at the can, feeling sorry for the poor pumpkin that nobody pays attention to 11 months out of the year. I wondered what else I could possibly do with my orange friend other than make a pie. All cans, no matter what brand, has only a picture of a pie on them as though it’s the only thing the pumpkin can be used for. Pumpkin bread? That’s almost as uncreative… What about something savory?

My first experiment was with the ordinary Bolognese. Wanting to add nutritional value to the meat sauce (loads of vitamin A, added fiber, and it displaces the volume of the beef resulting in less saturated fat per serving), I added a generous amount of pumpkin puree to it along with the tomatoes after the beef has browned. The result was a thick, satisfying sauce with the illusion of creaminess without added cream or fat. It also made me feel good that I got my veggies in for that meal. A great way to trick kids into eating veggies.

There was still some left from the Bolognese, so I tried it with some Asian flavors this time. When I can’t think of anything to cook, my standard go-to dinner is a Thai curry, so I decided to modify it with the addition of pumpkin puree. Thai curry, unlike Indian curry, has a coconut milk base and is normally very soupy (at least it should be). By replacing half the coconut milk with pumpkin puree, you create a different, thick, almost stew like consistency, that still works beautifully with jasmine rice. It adds extra smoothness and creaminess without the saturated fat from the coconut milk, and once again, you got your veggies in.

These are my ideas so far, I have some other ideas which I haven’t yet tried, but now that I’m all moved in to my new place, I may just keep the experiment going and give the poor pumpkin some attention it deserves. Please share with me your ideas!


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