Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fresh Pumpkin ...on a sandwich? You bet!

Fresh roasted pumpkin topped with roasted garlic and caramelized onion jam, arugula and herbs, on rosemary batard.   Y-U-M. 
This was a very spontaneous creation for a casual meeting with vegetarian coworkers.  Being October and all, it only made sense to work some magic with a leftover pie pumpkin (did you see that pumpkin stew/gumbo recipe?).

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pumpkin Stew

Digging into this stew is fun and tasty.  The cooked, sweet pumpkin flesh easily pulls away with each spoonful of goodness, and provides lots of nutrients, flavor and rich, comfort-food texture.  The crunchy, seasoned pumpkin seeds make for a wonderful contrast, but might be too much of a chew for some once they soften in the stew and thus lose their crunch. 

October--the perfect time to pick up a couple o' pie pumpkins from your local farmstand to make stew with!  To make the dish pictured, choose a couple of small-ish pie pumpkins.  Create lids, leaving stems intact.  Scoop out all the seeds and set aside in a bowl of fresh water.

Rub pumpkins with olive oil, put tops back on, taking care to line up ribs for best fit.  Set aside while making the filling.

For the filling, use whatever moves you.  I went for a gumbo-style stew without the shellfish.  I even had gumbo filĂ© on hand, a fine powdery seasoning made from dried Sassafras tree leaves (one of my favorite trees here in the northeast!) used for thickening stew, as well as, creole seasoning from a batch of homemade spice rubs (it's easy to make your own blends of seasonings; see my recipe below).  Leftover roasted potatoes were way too tempting to leave out, so they were also added.  For this carni version, I used bone-in chicken thighs and local andouille sausage from Brookford Farm.  Great stuff, but this could e-a-s-i-l-y be made for vegans and vegetarians by simply omitting the meat and beefing up (sorry, pun intended) with all kinds of root veggies.

What makes a true gumbo authentic is the chocolate-colored roux.  The French typically use a very light roux for thickening soups and stews.  For this roux, though, the same ingredients are cooked for a much longer period of time.  One might think they were about to burn their roux!  Have no fear, it makes for a killer stew!