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Pumpkin, Please!

All Mack No Cheese

Pumpkin, Please!

Hello again, friend. I’m so glad you’re here. 

Fall has officially begun, and with this season comes many wonderful foods, activities and cozy, autumn fun. From hot chocolate and bonfires to caramel apples and haunted houses, fall’s got it all. 

One of my favorite fall activities is my annual trip to the pumpkin patch with my Mimi. There’s an adorable pumpkin patch in my town with thousands of pumpkins big and small alike. This year at the patch, I happened to meet one of the owners, Michael, who showed me around the property and gave me a wealth of information about the different types of pumpkins he grows. 

As Michael showed me around the wagons of pumpkins and barrels of gourds, he pointed out the section of the patch that contained all of the edible pumpkins –– the ones good for cooking –– and I started reminiscing on those delicious fall desserts I look forward to enjoying every year. Then it hit me: Pumpkin is normally only bought fresh and made into purees and pastes which are then used for pies, muffins, drinks, etc. Why can’t pumpkin be bought, cooked and eaten on its own? Spoiler alert . . . it can be!

I thought long and hard, searching the internet for pumpkin recipes that don’t utilize the fruit solely as a puree. To my surprise, I found that pumpkin as an ingredient is not being used to its fullest potential. The world needs pumpkin in a brand new way, and here it is. 

I present to you the perfect autumn side dish: Roasted Pumpkin and Brussel Sprout Salad.

I’m so proud of this recipe. It’s colorful and flavorful, seasonal and bright, perfect for this year’s Thanksgiving side dish contribution or for a fall potluck with friends. Plus, it gives you an added incentive to head out to your local pumpkin patch and soak up the autumn season in all of its glory. 

Grab some friends and a cozy fall outfit, take your uber-aesthetic pumpkin patch Instagram pictures and get cooking!

This recipe is not only a great way to participate in those cheerful harvest-time activities, but it’s a great recipe for using fresh, seasonal produce and supporting your local farming community. Not to mention, it’s vegetarian and gluten free. Yeah. Thank me later. 

Roasted Pumpkin and Brussel Sprout Salad 

Serving Size: 6-8 people 

Time: 1 hour 

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:

1 pie pumpkin, 4 cups when cubed (see notes for further guidance)

4 cups quartered brussel sprouts 

4-5 radishes, thinly sliced

1/4 cup raw, whole pine nuts

1/4 cup pomegranate seeds 

1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese 

4 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 

Salt and pepper to taste 

For the dressing: 

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with foil.
  2. Carefully cut the top and bottom off of the pumpkin, cut in half again vertically and deseed the pumpkin with a spoon. With a potato peeler or a small paring knife, peel the skin off of the pumpkin, leaving only the flesh. Cut the pumpkin into small cubes and place on one of the baking sheets. 
  3. Using your hands, massage the cubed pumpkin with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the paprika, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Place the tray of pumpkin in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. 
  4. On the other baking sheet, drizzle the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the brussel sprouts and season intuitively with salt and pepper, using your hands again to massage and coat thoroughly. 
  5. Once the pumpkin has baked for 25 minutes, place the tray of sprouts in the oven with the pumpkin and bake altogether for another 25 minutes at 350 degrees, flipping the pumpkin and sprouts once or twice with a spatula while baking.  
  6. While the pumpkin and sprouts are baking, toast the pine nuts and prepare the dressing. In a small pan on the stove, toast the raw pine nuts on high heat for 3-4 minutes until browned and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients and set aside. 
  7. When the pumpkin and sprouts are done baking, toss them together in a serving bowl along with the dressing, gently using a large spoon to fold and coat the ingredients without mashing them. 
  8. Top the mixture with the radishes, pomegranate seeds, toasted pine nuts and goat cheese. Serve and enjoy! 

Notes: 

  1. The pumpkin patch near me carries a few different varieties of pumpkins known for their culinary success. I tested  Pik-A-Pie and Long Stem Pies for this recipe, according to what Michael told me. To my understanding, any small, generic pie pumpkin will work just fine for this recipe. You can even buy pie pumpkins at the grocery store, but I think it’s much more worthwhile to source your pumpkins locally. Pumpkin patches typically operate throughout the entire month of October and then the harvest yield slows down drastically, meaning patches will close up shop soon thereafter, so hop to it!  
  1. This recipe does not reheat well unless what you don’t serve hasn’t been topped with the radishes, pomegranate seeds, pine nuts and goat cheese yet. If you don’t anticipate eating the entire recipe in one sitting, portion out what you will eat, top it and store the pumpkin/sprout mixture and toppings separately to reassemble for another time. 
  1. Fresh pomegranate seeds are always better than the convenient containers of pomegranate jewels you can buy in a package at the store, but if you don’t have the patience or the spare t-shirt to extract the pomegranate seeds yourself (they’re so messy and tedious to remove), packaged pomegranate seeds will suffice. Just make sure they’re not expired or fermented or else they’ll taste like rubbing alcohol! You’re also more than welcome to buy pre-toasted pine nuts versus raw ones, but the aromatics from those things are divine, so I suggest not skipping it. It also adds an added nuttiness to the dish when made fresh.  

Thanks for reading, friend. If you try this recipe, I hope you have fun throughout the entire process of making it––from farm, or patch, to table. Let’s talk again soon.

SUPPORT STUDENT MEDIA

Hi, I’m Holly Liptak, a senior journalism student from Akron and the editor-in-chief of The Burr this semester. My staff and I are committed to bringing you interesting, humorous and hard-hitting stories that tap into current events, trends and the lives of those who have made a home in Kent, Ohio. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate.

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