Pumpkin Rut

>> Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I've made so many different soups, stews, breads, desserts, etc. with pumpkin. In autumn, I buy a large can of it nearly every week at the grocery store. I don't even think about it, but it's there in the cart at checkout time.

I sat for a good hour trying to think of something NEW to do with pumpkin. Well, that's not all I did during said hour, but you know how it goes when something's on your mind. You carry it with you.

I decided to ask Google for some help.

I searched "ways to use canned pumpkin" and it yielded some good links:

Bon Appetit's 11 Ways to Use Canned Pumpkin
TLC's 10 Ways to Use Canned Pumpkin (Besides in a Pie)
Self.com's 4 Tasty Ways to Use Canned Pumpkin
Food Network's Leftover Canned Pumpkin 5 Ways
Momadvice.com's 8 Ways to Use Canned or Fresh Pumpkin

If you add in my Food for Runners post with 18 pumpkin recipes, I entertained 56 creative, delicious ideas. But many of these recipes -- pumpkin butter, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bread, pumpkin smoothies, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin cookies, etc., etc., etc. -- are sort of been-there-done-that for me.

What to do?


What you'll need for the pasta . . . 

  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1+ cup unbleached white flour
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree 
  • 1 tablespoon flax meal + 3 tablespoons hot water (= flax egg)
  • 3 tablespoons water
Method . . . 

  1. In a food processor, pulse walnuts until they become meal. Then add the flours and salt. Pulse until combined.
  2. Add in the pumpkin puree, the flax egg, and water. Mix until a dough ball is formed.
  3. Take out of processor. If dough is sticky, knead in more flour until it isn't.
  4. Let rest at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes. 
  5. Then generously flour a work surface and roll out into a large rectangle. Cut into 8 smaller, longer lasagna rectangles (as shown below)
  6. Set aside until ready for use. 
  7. Best part: There is no need to boil noodles before baking lasagna rolls.

What you'll need for the sauce . . .

  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (or regular milk)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Method for sauce . . .

  1. Heat the olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add in the garlic and let cook for a couple minutes.
  2. Then add the cayenne and paprika. Mix until garlic is coated. 
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients -- all but the cheese.
  4. Once it sauce is well incorporated take off heat and stir in cheese.

What you'll need for the filling . . .

  • 1 block extra firm tofu, drained well
  • 15-ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 small tomato, diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Method . . . 

  1. Simply crumble the tofu into a large bowl, toss with the black beans and diced tomato.
  2. Season with the salt and pepper. 
  3.  The key is making sure the tofu is as drained as possible. Otherwise you may have some soggy pasta (but it isn't terrible if that happens).


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spritz an 8" x 8" (9" x 9" works, too) pan with some olive oil. Then pour in 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the sauce into the bottom
  2. Lay out your lasagna noodles. Spread each evenly with some sauce, making sure that you have a good 1/2 cup or more of sauce left over.
  3. Then evenly distribute the filling mixture.
  4. Starting at one end, roll the pasta and then place into your baking dish -- one right next to another.
  5. When you have finished rolling the pasta, cover with the remaining sauce.
  6. You may also choose to add a bit of shredded cheese on top. 
  7. Cover dish with foil and place in oven to 45 minutes.
  8. Then take off the foil and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes. 
  9. We actually did this and then turned off the heat and left the dish in there for another 25 minutes while we gave Ada a bath and it turned out great.

My weakness as a food photographer?

Taking photos of cooked pasta dishes. I never, ever get a good shot! The finished pumpkin pasta tastes much better than this photo would lead you to believe.

Anyway, that's how I busted out of my pumpkin rut. And not only did we have a great dinner, we still have half the food left over for tomorrow's lunch. I'll be the first to say that this recipe SEEMS long and complicated, but I assure you -- it wasn't terribly difficult. Even for a weeknight.

Also, if you'd rather use ricotta in place of tofu, that would be delicious! Alternatively, if you'd like to make this recipe vegan, omit all cheese and consider adding in some nutritional yeast for the flavor.

Have you come across any new, fun pumpkin recipes lately? I'd like to make something sweet that I haven't tried before. Hmmm.

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