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Oct 16, 2007 01:06 PM

Suggestions for using canned pumpkin, refried beans...

I'm thinking savory over sweet. Simple over complicated, healthy over not healthy, etc.

For instance, I could add pumpkin to pancakes or white bean soup. Do you have any tricks or suggestions?

I'm trying to clean out my pantry. I keep shopping, but certain things seem to linger.

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  1. Believe it or not, adding a can of pumpkin puree to a pot of plain 'ole ground beef chili really improves its texture. You won't taste it so much, but it just gives the chili such "body". Pumpkin chilli is quite popular at the Morton, IL Pumpkin Festival. The pumpkin will also increase the nutritional value of the chili!

    1. You can make Pumpkin Soup using the canned pumpkin, some broth and not much else besides seasonings (I like curried myself). Similar to Butternut Squash Soup. I've also heard it's good mixed into yogurt or oatmeal, though I've yet to try that.
      Refried beans, get some big flour tortillas and make bean and cheese burritos, add some leftover meat too if you want.

      1. I was in the same situation. You can use pumpkin in any banana bread/muffin/cookie/whatever recipe, instead of the banana.

        For savoury, try pumpkin hummus - you blend it in with the chickpeas (make sure there are still more chickpeas than pumpkin). You'll need to ramp up the seasonings a little, though.

        1. As long as the canned pumpkin is good quality, I use it all the time for spinach and pumpkin lasagna.

          The components:

          -Canned pumpkin seasoned with rosemary, sage, salt and pepper
          -Frozen spinach, thawed, drained well, mixed with part-skim ricotta, rosemary, sage, salt and pepper
          -Bechamel sauce (using skim milk is just fine, and I use half olive oil/half butter for the roux)
          -no-boil noodles
          -part-skim mozzarella cheese
          -Parmesan cheese

          It's not exactly health food with all the cheese, but it's satisfying in modest portions (and I have a big appetite!) I freeze individual portions of it for emergency lunch/dinner.

          Refried beans would also work well as a chili thickener if you're from the beans-in-my-chili-isn't-a-crime camp. I LOVE the idea of adding pumpkin as a soup/stew thickener- will have to try that sometime!

          10 Replies
          1. re: 4Snisl

            The lasagna sounds right up my alley. But good quality canned pumpkin....aren't they all kinda the same? I think I buy Libby, old-school brand name?

            I like the idea of refried beans as a chili thickener - thanks. Definitely think chili with beans is STILL CHILI! I find the other view tiresome.

            1. re: JaneRI

              Maybe it's the power of suggestion, but somehow I thought the lasagna tasted better when I used organic canned pumpkin that I got during the after-Thanksgiving clearance at Williams-Sonoma.

              Libby should work just fine. My hope is that ALL canned pumpkin would work fine, but I wonder if "lesser quality" ones would be more watery, off in texture, etc.

              1. re: 4Snisl

                Actually, I hate the W-S packaged foods. I don't think they're bad, but I don't think the actually quality even comes CLOSE to the high prices. In the end, they're still packaged foods. If I wanted better quality (and was more ambitious), I'd just buy a fresh pumpkin and roast it.

                1. re: JaneRI

                  Yep, but on clearance, it was less expensive than store brand canned pumpkin!

                  As I said, it could have been the power of suggestion, but I found it tasted closer to fresh roasted squash (straight up) than other canned pumpkin I've used. This is what gave me the notion that there might be differences in canned pumpkin.

                  Would I pay full price for that can of pumpkin? Probably not....especially not for the lasagna, which tastes great with pumpkin that is not of such expensive pedigree ;).

                2. re: 4Snisl

                  Most canned pumpkin (and frozen pumpkin pies) are made from squash, not pumpkin, so look carefully. Libbys is 100% pure pumpkin, and that's why they put that prominently on their label. It's the kind of product that people ask for by brand name, like Hellmans mayo.

                  1. re: coll

                    Oh- never seen a can of pumpkin that contains other squashes in it. Interesting....

                    1. re: 4Snisl

                      Neither have I. Only ever seen ones labeled "100% pumpkin".

                      1. re: JaneRI

                        The US government classifies pumpkin and winter squash together, so they can be labelled as either, whether frozen or canned. You just have to look for the companies that brag about the pumpkin content, that's how you can tell. If it says 100% Pumpkin then you're good to go!

                        1. re: coll

                          Thanks coll! I learn something new every day :).

                  2. re: 4Snisl

                    The worst canned pumpkin I ever bought was, tragically, organic. I'll never turn my back on One Pie again. Besides, I love the One Pie labels.

              2. If you mixed a bit of the canned pumpkin w/ refried beans, you have the beginings of a seasonal empanda. Add some allspice, ground beef/turkey, dried cranberries...onion, etc.
                Could be really good - or really awful. Any frozen pie crust in the freezer? use that for the shell.

                3 Replies
                1. re: stellamystar

                  Or a veg version with some sharp cheese instead of the meat.

                  1. re: stellamystar

                    Sounds yummy. I believe those are usually fried....could they be baked successfully do you think? I'm not one to fry at home.

                    1. re: JaneRI

                      I would bake them on a rack over a cookie sheet ... I wouldn't fry them either.