These 3 pumpkin dishes might upstage the turkey on the table

By Gretchen McKay, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Of all the Thanksgiving classics, only one dish gives a roasted turkey a run for the money.

Silky smooth pumpkin pie is just as high on many people’s list of favorite holiday dishes. Often made with Libby’s canned pumpkin puree, a slice brings the meal to its sweet conclusion.

I’ve never been a big fan because of the dessert’s jiggly texture. Even a giant dollop of homemade whipped cream spooned on top won’t sway me. I am, however, quite happy to bake one or two pies for the family and friends who love it.

Like a whole lot of Americans who love the flavor of pumpkin in everything from their morning coffee to their breads, soups and cookies, I also like to cook with it, so long as its final destination isn’t inside a pie shell.

It’s not just about the flavor: When it comes to canned foods, pure pumpkin is a winner nutrition-wise. Not only is the fruit low-fat and low-calorie (a half-cup serving has just 45 calories), it’s naturally gluten-free. It’s also packed with nutrients, fiber and vitamin A. In a pinch, it can make a great substitute for oil or butter in baking.

The holidays are prime time for pumpkin lovers, because those instantly recognizable cans of pure pumpkin puree are not only happily on sale in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas, but also front and center on your grocery store’s end caps and baking aisle — practically begging to be tossed into the shopping cart.

Want to expand your pumpkin repertoire? Or maybe you’re just looking for ways to use up any leftover pumpkin after making the requisite pie. These three recipes all put the bright orange puree to good use, in ways both sweet and savory.

The first is a savory pumpkin hummus that takes less than 10 minutes to prepare, and will kick off your holiday gathering in a flavorful and nutritious fashion. It has all the ingredients of a traditional hummus — chickpeas, garlic, lemon and tahini — plus canned pumpkin puree and warm Mediterranean spices. The result is a festive and slightly spicy spin on a cold dip that’s perfect for fall.

The second recipe is made to order for guests who prefer eating vegetarian, especially when said dish partners cheese and pasta. Cooked lasagna noodles are filled with a creamy mix of pumpkin puree and ricotta, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses and rolled burrito-style into fat bundles. A rich sauce made with more pumpkin and heavy cream goes on top, along with thin ribbons of fresh sage. Not exactly low-cal, but fabulous! You’ll never make sweet potato casserole again.

And finally, for dessert, may we suggest a moist and perfectly spiced pumpkin bundt cake. It’s more showy than a round or square cake, and easier to make because you don’t have to ice it. A thick but pourable glaze made of maple syrup, butter, vanilla and confectioners’ sugar is drizzled on top and down the side for a sweet and seasonal finish.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Spicy Pumpkin Hummus

This low-cal and very tasty appetizer made with pumpkin puree is super easy and super seasonal. Cayenne pepper and cumin give it a spicy little kick.

Serves a crowd

1 15-ounce canned pumpkin puree

1 15.5-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed well

3 tablespoons tahini

Juice 1 lemon

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 clove garlic

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pita chips, apple slices and/or crackers for serving

Process pumpkin and chickpeas in a food processor until fairly smooth. Add tahini, lemon juice, oil, cayenne, cumin and garlic to the food processor and process until smooth.
Season to taste with salt and pepper; you also can add more lemon juice or spices, to taste.
Serve with pita chips or wedges, apple slices and/or crackers, with a sprinkle of cayenne on top.

— adapted from

Pumpkin Lasagna Roll-Ups

Have a few vegetarians at the table this holiday? Or simply tired of the same old sweet potato casserole? This decadent lasagna dish is sure to please. The filling combines pumpkin puree with ricotta and Parmesan cheeses as well as fresh sage. And the creamy pumpkin sauce shouts “fall!”

Lasagna roll-ups filled with a creamy mix of canned pumpkin and Parmesan, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses swim in a rich pumpkin sauce. (Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS)

I used heavy cream in the sauce, but if you’re looking for a lighter dish, use all milk instead. Any leftover filling can be tucked into ravioli or cannelloni.

Serves 6-8

2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for the noodles

12 lasagna noodles

1 tablespoon salted butter

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup light or heavy cream

2 cups whole milk, plus more if needed

Salt and black pepper

1 1/3 cups grated Parmesan cheese

Pinch of grated nutmeg

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1 1/2 cups pure pumpkin puree

1 16-ounce container whole-milk ricotta cheese

4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1 large egg, beaten

2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage, plus more for topping

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add lasagna noodles and cook until al dente. Drain, rinse under cold water until cool and lay flat on a large sheet of foil. When cool, cut each in half.
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle in flour and whisk constantly with a wooden spoon just long enough to eliminate the raw taste of the flour, but not so long that the roux starts to brown, about 3 minutes.
Slowly pour in milk, whisking constantly. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Bring to a gentle simmer, whisking occasionally, and cook until the sauce thickens a little, about 10 minutes. Whisk in 1/3 cup parmesan, nutmeg and cayenne until melted.
Add 1 cup pumpkin puree to the sauce and whisk until smooth; taste and season with more salt, pepper, nutmeg or cayenne, if desired. If it seems too thick, add a little more milk. Set aside.
Prepare filling: Combine ricotta, 2 cups mozzarella, 3/4 cup Parmesan, the remaining 1/2 cup pumpkin, egg, sage, 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper in a large bowl and stir to combine.
Assemble roll-ups: Spread 1/2 cup of sauce in a 9- by- 13-inch baking dish. Spread a generous tablespoons of ricotta filling on each half noodle, then roll up to enclose the filling. Arrange seam-side down in the pan. (I divided the noodles between two pans.)
Top with the remaining sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan. Sprinkle with sage. Loosely cover with foil.
Bake for 15 minutes, then uncover and bake until bubbly, about 10 more minutes. Let it sit for 15 minutes before serving.

— adapted from

Pumpkin Bundt Cake

Pumpkin pie is the most famous Thanksgiving dessert, but personally, I can’t stand it. (It’s a texture thing.) This super-moist pumpkin Bundt cake, which includes many of the same ingredients, including canned pumpkin, is a terrific substitute. A sweet maple glaze adds an autumnal flourish. Great for breakfast before Black Friday shopping.

Makes 1 cake

For cake

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground allspice

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup vegetable oil

2 1/2 cups granulated sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)

For maple glaze

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chopped walnuts or pecans, for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 10- to 12-cup Bundt pan with baking spray with flour.
Sift flour into a large bowl. Add cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, allspice, salt, and baking powder to the bowl and whisk to combine.
In a separate large bowl, beat vegetable oil and sugar together until fully combined. Beat in eggs, one at a time, making sure that each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Mix in vanilla.
Beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, alternate adding dry ingredients and pumpkin puree to the batter, mixing on low speed after each addition just until the ingredients are incorporated. Be careful not to overmix.
Pour batter into the prepared pan and smooth into an even layer. Firmly tap the pan on the countertop a few times to release any air bubbles.
Bake 55-60 minutes, until a cake tester or wooden skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Prepare maple glaze: Place butter, maple syrup, ground cinnamon and kosher salt in a medium saucepan set over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat and whisk in the powdered sugar and vanilla. Allow to cool for 2-4 minutes, until slightly thickened.
Spoon the warm glaze over the cooled cake. If the glaze starts to set in the pan before drizzling over the cake, simply place it back on the heat for a few seconds and whisk until smooth). Garnish with chopped walnuts, if desired.


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