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
When I toss romaine hearts into my shopping cart, chances are I’m heading home to make my family’s favourite salad. Every cook should know the joy of crafting a true Caesar salad while avoiding the also-ran dressings at the supermarket that never quite measure up to the real thing. Over time we’ve experimented with lots of additional flavours in this salad but, more often than not, I toss in lots of fresh basil leaves and brightly flavoured cherry tomatoes. What a great way to fill Half Your Plate!
One of the best ways to fill Half Your Plate (and all of your soup bowl) is with a simple pureed 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 Honourable Yasir Naqvi’s with Chef Michael Smith’s coaching!