Pumpkin Maple Vinaigrette (ideal way to use leftover pumpkin!)

Pumpkin Maple Vinaigrette – Light but flavorful and super speedy, this versatile dressing makes great use of leftover canned pumpkin and might just become a new favorite!

Light but flavorful and super speedy, this versatile dressing makes great use of leftover canned pumpkin and might just become a new favorite!

 

When a recipe calls for a cup or so of a canned good like chicken broth, beans, or coconut milk, what happens to the small portion that remains in the can?

Lingering amounts of certain items are easy to work into a meal and others can be frozen for future use. But if you’re like me, despite the best of intentions, partial cans of various items sometimes sit a little too long and end up in the trash can.

The return of fall and the approaching holiday season mean many of us are once again embracing all things pumpkin. Fresh puree is delightful, but the canned variety is a worthy substitute and affords much convenience.

Recipes for pumpkin muffins, pancakes, quick breads and cookies, however, frequently require a cup of pumpkin puree, leaving too much to simply discard but not enough for another recipe.

So how can we avoid waste without too much effort – and possibly without another round of baking?

Such is the inspiration behind this simple, flavorful vinaigrette that makes good use of those leftovers and pairs perfectly with a host of cool-weather fruits and vegetables, most nuts and seeds and a variety of cheeses and grains.

Pumpkin Maple Vinaigrette – Light but flavorful and super speedy, this versatile dressing makes great use of leftover canned pumpkin and might just become a new favorite!

I first stumbled upon this idea through a friend who authors a lovely blog called The Café Sucre Farine.  To brighten the flavor, I adapted the original recipe to use half the original amount of oil and slightly more Dijon. The original recipe also includes a medium clove of garlic, more liberal use of thyme, and a bit of water, which I omit.

The classic vinaigrette formula is one part acid (i.e., vinegar or lemon juice) to three parts olive oil. Julia Child’s trademark vinaigrette was even more liberal with the oil, specifying one tablespoon acid to one-third to one-half cup oil.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, I find that less oil translates to a lighter, brighter flavor – and as my one son would say, a less “slippery” salad. This means that a light coating of dressing will provide ample flavor without weighing down the greens or making them seem oily. That said, if you end up with a dressing that’s a little too tangy for your taste, an extra drizzle of oil will rein it in nicely.

I’ve used this versatile vinaigrette to flavor salads containing apples, pears, roasted root veggies like sweet potatoes and beets, avocado, dried cranberries, blue cheese, feta and a variety of nuts and seeds. My go-to lettuce choices are baby spinach and mixed greens, although heartier alternatives like kale work well, too. For a filling grain-based salad, incorporate a selection of these ingredients into cooked quinoa or wild rice.

Pumpkin Maple Vinaigrette – Light but flavorful and super speedy, this versatile dressing makes great use of leftover canned pumpkin and might just become a new favorite!

Beyond this dressing, how else could you use a partial can of pumpkin puree? Following are some general ideas followed by some specific recipes.

  • Stir a spoonful or two into plain yogurt or oatmeal and drizzle with maple syrup.
  • Make a pasta sauce with browned butter, cream and sage, and then sprinkle with Parmesan.
  • Use in place of applesauce or mashed banana when baking (note that it will not be as sweet).
  • Use in overnight oats or a smoothie.
  • Add to pancake or waffle batter.
  • Stir into soup or chili for a little extra thickness

 

A few more things…

When contemplating other uses, keep in mind that pumpkin works well in savory applications as it has a mild flavor profile and isn’t especially sweet. You might think along the lines of how you enjoy other winter squash like butternut or acorn squash.

To coax out the sweet pumpkin flavor that so many of us enjoy, rely on sweeteners like maple syrup or brown sugar and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger.

 

Is it safe to store leftover pumpkin in the can or should I transfer it to another container?

Despite what we sometimes read, the United States Department of Agriculture says it’s safe to refrigerate canned foods manufactured in the United States directly in the can. The USDA does, however, state that canned foods will better retain their flavor and appearance if you transfer them to glass or plastic storage containers after opening.

 

How long will pumpkin puree keep?

The experts at Libby’s say that the puree can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week and that it can be frozen up to 3 months. Do note that the puree may not seem as smooth once thawed and some of the liquid may separate, but it can be stirred and used as intended.

Pumpkin Maple Vinaigrette – Light but flavorful and super speedy, this versatile dressing makes great use of leftover canned pumpkin and might just become a new favorite! 

Pumpkin Maple Vinaigrette
Yield: 1 scant cup
Light but flavorful and super speedy, this versatile dressing makes great use of leftover canned pumpkin and might just become a new favorite!
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup 100% pure pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt and several grinds of the pepper mill
Instructions
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a glass jar or container with a tight-fitting lid. Shake until the ingredients are blended and the dressing appears thickened and slightly creamy. Alternatively, whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl.
  2. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator where it will keep for approximately one week. When cold, the oil will solidify; simply allow the vinaigrette to sit at room temperature for several minutes and then shake again before using.
Notes
  • For best flavor, I recommend using pure maple syrup as opposed to pancake syrup.
  • Be sure to use the Dijon, even if you aren’t a mustard fan. In addition to boosting the flavor without tasting overtly of mustard, it acts as an emulsifier, allowing the water and oil particles to bond and create a thicker, creamier dressing. I keep a jar of good old Grey Poupon in my fridge; Maille is another fine option.
The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

More delicious ways to use (or create!) a partial can of pumpkin:

Secret Ingredient Chocolate Peanut Butter Skillet Cookie…given the nature of this list, you may have guessed the “secret!”
Healthy Pumpkin Snack Bread is naturally gluten-free and decadent enough for dessert yet healthy enough for breakfast.
Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins (Grain-Free) are easy to mix up, are quite nutritious, and pack a protein punch.
Coconut Pumpkin Granola uses the pumpkin as a tasty replacement for a portion of the sugar and oil.
Pumpkin Ginger Cookies are a delightful way to welcome fall and a welcome addition to a holiday cookie plate.

These recipes use the whole can of pumpkin:

Pumpkin Pie Cake  perfect for a holiday dessert
Pumpkin Bran Muffins (or their gluten-free counterpart) are an old favorite in these parts. The optional 2-ingredient frosting makes them worthy of dessert!
Maple Pumpkin Pie – This naturally sweetened pie is so simple and can be made crust-free in individual ramekins.

 

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