• Ashley Margaret Waterman

Pumpkin Puree

Contrary to popular belief, I don't solely eat sweets. Each week, I plan the meals and try to balance both vegan and meat-filled dishes. One day a week, I make it a point to eat vegan in a hope to lead a more sustainable life. This past week, my vegan night was made up of pumpkin risotto made with homemade pumpkin puree. To satisfy my sweet craving, I also made a gluten-free, vegan pumpkin bread.

It's definitely pumpkin season. Why not make your own puree and use it in your savory and sweet dishes this holiday?

Before we can make risotto or pumpkin bread, we need to puree our pumpkin.

How to Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree

4-6 lb baking pumpkin(s)

Heat your oven to 400º.

Remove the stem and split the pumpkin in half using a large knife.

Scoop out the seeds and pumpkin guts.

Reserve the pumpkin seeds for roasting.

Sprinkle the pumpkins with salt and lay the halves, flesh side down, on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Roast until a paring knife can easily be inserted and removed from the pumpkin--30-45 minutes.

Test the pumpkins in several places to ensure they are completely done.

Allow the pumpkins to cool on a cooling rack for about an hour.

Using a spoon, scoop all of the pumpkin flesh from the skin and put it in a food processor.

Process until smooth.

Store your fresh pumpkin puree in the fridge for up to one week or freeze for up to three months.

After you've made your puree, you can start planning all of the delicious ways to use it. I recommend risotto and pumpkin bread.

Pumpkin Risotto

About 58-oz. vegetable broth

2 Tbsp earth balance

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 cup minced onion

2 cups Arborio rice (not rinsed)

1 cup white wine

15-oz. pumpkin puree

1 tsp thyme

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp white pepper

Salt to taste

Warm the vegetable broth over medium heat.

Heat butter and olive oil in a large pan until the butter is melted.

Add the onion and cook until it becomes translucent--about 2 minutes.

Add the rice and stir until it's coated.

Add one ladle of broth.

Once the broth is absorbed, add the wine.

When the wine is absorbed, add one ladle of broth until it is absorbed, stirring constantly.

Continue adding broth one ladle at a time until the rice is tender and creamy.

This should take 20-25 minutes.

You may not use all of your broth.

Stir in the pumpkin, thyme, nutmeg, and white pepper.

Salt to taste and garnish with some roasted pumpkin seeds.

If you need a little something sweet, use your puree to make gluten-free, vegan pumpkin bread (modified from America's Test Kitchen).

Gluten-Free, Vegan Pumpkin Bread

1 1/4 cups gluten-free flour blend

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

3/4 cup pumpkin puree

3/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp nutmeg

pinch of cloves

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup canola oil

2 oz tofutti cream cheese

2 flax eggs

2 Tbsp buttermilk (almond milk combined with apple cider vinegar)

Add in: 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Preheat the oven to 350º.

Grease a loaf pan.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.

Combine pumpkin puree, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and cloves in a saucepan over medium heat.

Cook 2-4 minutes, stirring constantly.

Remove from the heat and add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, oil, and cream cheese, whisking until combined.

Let the mixture cool for 5 minutes.

Whisk until all of the cream cheese is combined.

In a separate bowl, combine flax eggs and buttermilk.

Add egg mixture to pumpkin mixture and whisk to combine.

Stir flour into pumpkin until thoroughly combined and no lumps remain.

If using any add-ins, fold them into the batter at this point.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45–50 minutes.

Let the bread cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then remove it and allow your bread to cool completely before serving.

This is the first time I've made this bread vegan. It came up a bit short, but the taste was perfect. If you want it to be a bit taller, adding about 1/2 tsp of xanthan gum could help. I'll let you know my fix the next time I make a loaf.

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