Recipe For Health
by Chef Kurt Kwaitkowski
Featured Food: Pumpkin Yield: Serves 2-3 as main dish or 4-6 as side dishLearn more about Pumpkin

Ingredients

  • 1 (2 ¼ lb.) pie pumpkin
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • ¼ c. diced carrots
  • ¼ c. diced celery
  • ¼ c. diced shallots
  • ½ jalapeño pepper, diced (reserve seeds and veins)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 T. white wine
  • ¼ c. vegetable stock
  • ⅓ c. diced grape tomatoes
  • ¼ c. roasted walnuts
  • 1 T. honey or agave syrup (for vegan preparation)
  • 1 ¼ c. cooked brown rice
  • 2 t. cumin
  • 1 t. chili powder
  • 1 t. apple cider vinegar
  • ½ c. canned black beans, rinsed
  • 2 T. chopped cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

Preheat oven to 425°F. Chisel-cut the cap off the pumpkin. Scoop out the strings and seeds. Replace the cap. Place the pumpkin on a sheet tray, then into hot oven. Bake for 25 minutes or until the pumpkin starts to soften.

While the pumpkin is cooking, warm olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat; add carrots, celery, and shallots and sauté for 5-7 minutes. Add jalapeño pepper and garlic; sauté for another minute. Deglaze the pan with white wine. Move the contents of sauté pan to medium bowl. Add remaining ingredients to the bowl. Mix well. Adjust heat to your preference by adding minced seeds and veins from jalapeño pepper. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Scrape contents of bowl into the pumpkin and return to oven for additional 20 to 30 minutes. To serve, scoop the stuffing and cooked pumpkin. 

Learn More About Pumpkin

Piles of pumpkins are everywhere this time of year. How do you know which one to choose? Like so many things in life, it depends. Do you plan to make a jack-o-lantern or a dish-for-dinner? Jack-o-lantern criteria are determined by the whim of the carver. For cooking and baking, choose one of the small pumpkins, often referred to as sugar pumpkins. They are firmer, meatier and less stringy than the larger varieties. As with other winter squashes, pumpkins should be firm and heavy for their size. Store your uncut pumpkin in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place until you’re ready to prepare it.

The edible parts of the pumpkin are inside the hard outer rind. Start by splitting the pumpkin in half and cutting away the stem. Scrape out the seeds and strings and set aside. Place the pumpkin, rind side down, on an oiled baking sheet and cover tightly with foil. Bake at 425°F for one and a half hours. It’s done when the flesh is extremely soft. Let set at room temperature until cool enough to handle. Then scrape the flesh out of the rind and place in a cheesecloth-lined colander to drain for an hour. Now the pumpkin is ready to mash or puree. 

Whether you’re carving or cooking your pumpkin, saving the seeds for roasting is a good idea.  

  • Place reserved seeds and strings in a colander and rinse under water until the seeds separate out.  
  • Move the seeds to a medium-size pot. For each cup of seeds, add 4 cups water and 2 tablespoons salt. Bring to a boil; simmer for 10 minutes. Drain well.  
  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a sheet pan with olive oil. Add the seeds and toss to coat with oil then spread the seeds in a single layer. Place pan in hot oven. Check every few minutes; remove pan from the oven when seeds are brown around the edges.  

Here’s the hard part—let cool completely before eating.

Peggy Crum MA, RD

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