This past week was all about pumpkins for me. Trying to find new ways to use them besides the canned stuff I get at the grocery store or carving them up for jack-o-lanterns for Halloween.
October is the month for pumpkins to shine. You see them every where. People use them for their fall decorating and well I am not sure how many people actually look at those big orange squash and think food. I know up to a few years ago if I wanted pumpkin to cook with it meant I was baking something sweet and sure enough it was coming in a can.
No fear here now, I am not going to bash the use of canned pumpkin. In fact I think it’s great. But just figured I’d try to convince you to try using a whole pumpkin to eat. It’s not as hard at you think, I promise.
First why? Am I crazy? In need of a hobby out of my kitchen, have to much time on my hands? How about nutrition. Well how about value in this economy if nutrition doesn’t grab you.
I’ll get the nutrition stuff out of the way first. Pumpkin is full of vitamins and minerals your body needs. It’s bright color should give that away but it has vitamins A, C, E, K and it has iron,magnesium and potassium as well. That’s just the flesh! If your looking at the seeds they contain more minerals, as well as they seem to have an anti-inflammatory effect, and may even help protect against prostate cancer and osteoporosis Not to mention the fiber in those seeds.
So last week I bought a small sugar pumpkin at Whole Foods (I missed going to the farmer’s market sadly), it was about 2 1/2 lbs maybe. It was easy to work with. Much easier than you would think. All I did was cut off a bit of the top and bottom, cut the pumpkin in half and scooped out the seeds and then took the halves and cut those into large pieces. Maybe about 4 pieces from each half. Now from here you can bake them but I wanted to share an easy and quick way to cook pumpkin if your in a rush or just don’t have time. Place the chunks, skin on, in a baking dish with water and pop in the microwave for about 7 mins or until tender. Then it’s easy as pie to cut the skin off and cut into chunks to work with. My pumpkin gave me more than enough for dinner as well as some for the freezer for another meal.
Here’s one idea for using fresh pumpkin for dinner.
Spicy Black Beans and Pumpkin
3 cups of cooked black beans (or a couple of cans)
3 cups of cooked chunks of pumpkin (cut into about 1 inch chunks)
1 Jalapeno (or hot pepper of your choice) diced
1 onion diced
3 garlic gloves minced
1 can of fire roasted tomatoes
3 chicken thighs cut into bite size pieces
red chili flakes- to taste
1-2 tsp chili powder (add more or less to taste)
3 tsp ground cumin
3 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp oregano
salt and pepper to taste
4 tbs olive oil
In a large skillet heat olive oil , add onion and cook till translucent then add garlic and jalapeno and cook till fragrant, about 2 mins. Next add your chicken thighs, cumin and coriander and cook till chicken is cooked through. Next add pumpkin, beans and canned tomato with juices and let simmer for about 5 min or till everything is heated through.
I served this over warm brown rice with more hot sauce and salsa on the table. My guys like heat I have to say. We had leftovers the next day with tortilla chips and it was great.
Topping ideas would be fresh slices of avocado , sour cream, green onions chopped or even some freshly grated cheese. You could even sever this in warm sprouted tortillas if you wanted.
Now I promised to not bash canned pumpkin and so I want to share the recipe I did for amazing pumpkin muffins using canned pumpkin next time.