Pumpkins are not just for carving into pretty faces they’re vegetables, so you can eat them too! As members of the squash family they’re deliciously versatile, inexpensive and packed with nutrients. Your best choice for cooking though are not the various jack-o-lantern varieties, they tend to be too big and bland. Instead, try this simple yet stunning idea with a few mini decorative pumpkins during harvest. With all this seasonal flavour they’re a great way to fill Half Your Plate!
Yield: Serves 4
Ingredients4 mini pumpkins
2 to 3 cups (500–750 mL) of your favourite applesauce
a few sprigs of minced fresh thyme, tarragon or rosemary
a sprinkle or two of salt
lots of freshly ground pepper
1 cup (250 mL) of raw pumpkin seeds
2 slices of rye or multi-whole grain bread
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Turn on your convection fan if you have one.
Use a serrated knife to slice off the top of each pumpkin exposing the seed-filled hollow within. Scoop out and discard the seeds. Lightly season the interiors with salt and pepper. Stir together the applesauce and thyme and stuff each pumpkin.
In your food processor briefly grind the pumpkin seeds, bread and olive oil. Process just long enough to coarsely chop the works. Top each pumpkin with a pile of the mixture. Bake until tender and delicious, about 1 hour. Serve and share!
These stuffed pumpkins are an excellent side dish for roast turkey or any other seasonal main course. If you like you can have them for dessert too. For a sweet treat drop the fresh herb and topping. Instead, just add a pat of butter to each one before baking.
© Chef Michael Smith – #HalfYourPlate
Anytime I fire up my grill for supper I always look for a veggie to add to the works because grilling is not just for meat. Firm, juicy zucchini is an ideal candidate. This simple dish also shows how easily you can adapt the classic flavours of salsa to just about any fruit. Try it; you just might discover that you prefer peaches to tomatoes in your salsa!
One of the best ways to fill Half Your Plate (and all of your soup bowl) is with a simple puréed soup. They’re a time-honoured and super-simple way to get a whole lot of vegetable flavour on the table in a hurry – maybe even hide vegetables from finicky eaters. This one was custom created by Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick with Chef Michael Smith’s coaching!