Eat the Decor

We’re now halfway through October, and pumpkins have taken their rightful seats on the front porches, kitchen tables, mantle places, and lawns of homes all over town. You’ve got your classic “Jack-o-Lantern” pumpkins, comparative giants next to “mini” pumpkins. Both are decorative cultivars whose sole missions in life are to breathe “fall charm” into the world. Their quirkiness, and in some cases downright ugliness (in the ugly-adorable sort of way), makes them endearing. So endearing, in fact, that every year, more and more farmland is devoted to growing these non-edible crops to meet the fall demand.

Let us not forget about the middle child of pumpkins, however; the aptly named “sugar” pumpkin, whose culinary properties are anything but mediocre. It requires a bit of muscle to crack one open, but don’t let that deter you. Think of it as pumpkin carving… with a sweet reward at the end. Not just a tasty reward, either! Also, a nutritious one. You’ll benefit from a healthy dose of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, magnesium, antioxidants, and fiber. Not to mention the protein, manganese, and copper found in the seeds.

Sugar pumpkins belong to the same family as other popular winter squash varieties like Acorn and Butternut, and you can use them in much the same way. Slice and roast them, boil and mash them, or purée them to use in soup, pie, muffins, pancakes, pasta dishes, and even skin brightening facial masks. And don’t forget to roast the seeds, too!

Try making a salad with roasted pumpkin and other fall-inspired ingredients like pears, dried cranberries, and pumpkin seeds. You’ll never let a sugar pumpkin sit on the stoop again!

Ingredients

  • 1 small sugar pumpkin
  • 6 cups spinach, baby kale, arugula, or mixed greens
  • 2 pears (use a large apple if you don’t have a pears)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (scooped from the sugar pumpkin and shelled, or store bought)
  • 4oz log of goat cheese

For the dressing:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Slice sugar pumpkin in half and then in wedges. Place on baking sheet insides facing up. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, cinnamon, and a pinch of nutmeg. Roast until pumpkin is tender and edges are caramelized, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
  • Toss pumpkin seeds with a little oil, a pinch of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg. Spread into an even layer on a baking sheet and place in oven for 5 minutes, tossing with spatula half way through.
  • Combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until combined.
  • Slice the pears (or apple) into thin half-circles or matchsticks.
  • Use a spoon to scoop roasted pumpkin wedges out of their skin. Then slice into chunks.
  • Put greens in a large salad bowl and toss with dressing. Add a little at a time so as not to over-dress, leaving a little extra.
  • Put everything together: Arrange the sliced pears and pumpkin on top of the greens. Then scatter the pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries all around. Crumble large chunks of goat cheese evenly over the top. Finally, drizzle with the remaining dressing!

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