Savory Ways to Cook with Pumpkin

Recent years have taught us that pumpkins are not just for Halloween decor and Thanksgiving pie. From September through November, we see pumpkins everywhere, and it helps get everyone in the mood for fall flavors and grateful gatherings. We can’t get enough of pumpkin-flavored lattes, bread, cakes and pies. But what about savory ways to enjoy pumpkin? There are just as many ways to enjoy this seasonal favorite as an entrée or side dish and not just for dessert.

Here are a few things I will be cooking this month, along with this comforting recipe for Pumpkin Noodle Soup. Any of this would be so good whenever the next cold front blows through.

Roast: Pie Pumpkins can be roasted just like butternut or acorn squash. Cut open and clean out the seeds. Then you can use the shell to stuff with chicken and rice. Or you can peel and cut into chunks and roast like butternut squash. Toss with some salt, pepper and olive oil and roast at 400 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.  Adding a little paprika, chile powder or honey is also good. Eat as a side dish or put on top of a salad.

Puree: Cut pie pumpkins in fourths and remove the seeds. Rub with vegetable oil and a little salt and roast in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes to 1 hour. When tender, scrape the flesh from the skin. Puree with a small amount of vegetable broth until smooth. Use the puree in soups, stir into alfredo sauce for a pumpkin cream sauce or add to risotto in the final stages of cooking. Combine with ricotta cheese to make pumpkin lasagna or stir into a cheese sauce for pumpkin mac and cheese.

Don’t want to fool with whole pumpkins? You can also use canned pumpkin for any of the things listed above. Just add as much as you need to achieve the right flavor and consistency.

Pumpkin Noodle Soup

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small yellow onion, small dice
1 large carrot, small dice
1 bay leaf
5 cups chicken broth
1 (15 oz can) pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup small pasta noodles (broken spaghetti, ditalini or macaroni)
1 chicken breast, shredded
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

In a saucepan, add the oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion and carrot until soft and translucent. Add the bay leaf, broth and pumpkin puree. Stir in the curry powder, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Add the pasta noodles and reduce to a simmer. Cook until pasta is al dente. Stir in the chicken and peas. Cook until warmed through. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper as needed.  If the mixture seems too thick, add more broth to desired consistency.

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