Pumpkin takes a walk on the savory side

Roasted pumpkin is combined with chorizo sausage then stuffed into tortillas and garnished with cabbage, toasted pumpkin seeds and cilantro.
Roasted pumpkin is combined with chorizo sausage then stuffed into tortillas and garnished with cabbage, toasted pumpkin seeds and cilantro. TNS

It’s hard to make it through fall without stumbling over a bright orange pumpkin, but that doesn’t mean many end up on your dinner plate. Besides the ubiquity of pumpkin pie, most pumpkins end up as decorative items – carved up as jack o’ lanterns or displayed as some colorful harvest scene. This is a shame, because they are extremely versatile in the kitchen, working well in both savory and sweet dishes.

You just need to make sure to buy the right kind. Avoid the enormous basketball-size pumpkins used for carving, because they are fibrous and flavorless. Instead, look for what are referred to as pie pumpkins (or sugar pumpkins), which are smaller – usually about 2 pounds. When cooked, the flesh becomes tender and sweet, which pairs extremely with these creative recipes.


Prep: 30 minutes; cook: 35 minutes; makes: 12 tacos

Recipe by Nick Kindelsperger.

1 pie or sugar pumpkin (about 2 pounds), peeled, cut into 3/4-inch cubes

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 pound Mexican chorizo

1 to 2 chipotles en adobo, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

Shredded red cabbage

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted

Handful fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

12 corn tortillas, warmed

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss pumpkin cubes with 2 tablespoons olive oil, cinnamon, salt and cumin. Place on a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet. Transfer to the oven; cook, 10 minutes. Flip pumpkin pieces with tongs or a spatula. Cook, flipping pieces every 10 minutes, until they are tender, 30 to 40 minutes total.

2. Meanwhile, pour remaining tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add chorizo; break sausage apart with a wooden spoon. Cook until chorizo is lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Add chipotles and garlic, stir well and cook until very fragrant. Add roasted pumpkin to the skillet; stir until the pieces are evenly coated with the chorizo.

3. Serve pumpkin and chorizo filling in corn tortillas topped with a sprinkle of cabbage, pumpkin seeds and cilantro.

Nutrition information per taco: 287 calories, 20 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 33 mg cholesterol, 16 g carbohydrates, 2 g sugar, 11 g protein, 668 mg sodium, 2 g fiber


Prep: 35 minutes; chill: 2 hours or overnight; cook: 45 minutes; makes: 8 servings

From “Palestine on a Plate” (Interlink, $35), coming in November, by Joudie Kalla, who writes that the dish is from her aunt, who lives in Amman, Jordan. We suggest starting with the juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons), then adding more to taste.

1 large pie pumpkin (about 2 pounds)

1 whole head garlic, cloves separated, skin on

Sea salt

1 bunch fresh thyme

Olive oil

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

3 tablespoons tahini

Juice of 1 to 4 lemons

1 pomegranate, seeded

Fresh mint sprigs

Pita bread, warmed

1. Heat the oven to 415 degrees. Cut the pumpkin into crescents, removing the seeds. Place pumpkin on a baking sheet along with the garlic. Season with salt; scatter with thyme sprigs. Drizzle generously with olive oil. Roast until golden, 45 minutes. Allow pumpkin to cool before removing the skins and draining them of any excess water.

2. Transfer pumpkin to a food processor or blender; squeeze in the garlic cloves from their skins, discarding skins. Process together; add the yogurt, tahini, lemon juice and salt to taste. Mix well. Add more salt to taste, if needed. Refrigerate in a covered container to thicken, 2 hours or overnight.

3. To serve, top with pomegranate seeds and mint; serve with pita bread.

Nutrition information per serving: 135 calories, 7 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 1 mg cholesterol, 17 g carbohydrates, 8 g sugar, 4 g protein, 182 mg sodium, 2 g fiber