Sunday, November 7, 2010

Three Pumpkin Recipes

I love all things fall.

I love trees. I love leaves. I love chilly air. I love warm, homey dishes.

This fall has been full of them. So good. So warm. So fibrous.

A while ago, I stopped blogging the majority of my meals. They got really repetitive. But, a couple times a week, I manage to whip out a few nutritious and delicious meals.

Three meals. Two recipes (oh're going to love this! Read on) and all healthy, comfort foods.

Vegetable Chowder
1 14oz can pumpkin
1 14 oz can creamed corn
1 cup reduced fat milk
1/4 c butter or butter substitute
1/4 c flour or cornstarch
1 onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves
Assorted vegetables (ideas: 1 chopped red pepper, 1 cup chopped broccoli, 1 cup chopped cauliflower, or any other small-cut veggie of your choice)
1.5 tsp dried sage
1.5 tsp dried thyme
1 ham shank OR smoked salt to taste OR 4 splashes liquid smoke
1 tsp pepper
salt to taste

Saute onion and garlic until browned and set aside (you can pour them into a dish and continue using the same pan if you like). Melt butter and stir in flour. Continue to stir until the rue (flour-butter mixture) browns slightly. Add milk and whisk to remove clumps. Add pumpkin, creamed corn, and 1 cup water. Return onion and garlic to pan and simmer until slightly thickened. Add thyme, sage, and ham shank if desired. Simmer 20 minutes. Add chopped veggies, and more water if neccesary, and simmer until veggies are soft (10-15 minutes). Salt and pepper to taste. 

*If you are a vegetarian friend and don't want to use the ham shank, you can skip it and just season with smoked salt or use liquid smoke to obtain a depth of flavor.

The next two recipes use the same filling or base. For an easy dinner party, one makes a good main course and the other could be an appetizer. Plus, I doubt people are going to know that you used the same mixture twice! 

High-Protein Pumpkin Pasta Bake 
The wagon-wheel noodle dish is first. It looks like macaroni and cheese, but it's not!

Pumpkin Mixture
1 block soft tofu
1.5 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
14 oz pumpkin
1 tbsp dried sage
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp lemon juice
1 onion, chopped 
2-3 garlic cloves, minced

1 lb pasta
2-3 oz good parmeggiano reggiano cheese
Saute onion and garlic until translucent. Add spices and saute until slightly brown. Remove from heat. In a blender, blend pumpkin, tofu, and ricotta. Add onion/garlic/spice mix and blend until smooth. Add salt *It's more salt than you think you need!* and set aside. Boil pasta to al dente. Grease a casserole dish (I used a 9x13 pan). Smear a small layer of pumkin mixture on the bottom and cover with noodles. Cover with 3/4 of remaining pumpkin mixture and 1 cup of water. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, cover with shredded parmeggiano, and bake 10 minutes or until browned on top. 

This recipe uses the same pumpkin mixture as the pasta bake. You can serve them fried (which we did) or boiled (I had them later in the week boiled and they were SOOOO good).

Pumpkin Ravioli

1-1.5 c pumpkin mixture from pasta bake
20 or so wonton wrappers (small 2x2" squares)

oil for frying

1 oz good parmeggiano reggiano

Separate wonton wrappers on a clean, lightly floured cutting board. Make one layer, spread out end-to-end. Into each wrapper, deposit less than 1 tbsp of pumpkin mixture, directly in the middle of the square. Wet your finger with lukewarm water and trace along edges of the square. Then, fold the square into a triangle, carefully pressing the edges together. Move to a lightly floured plate. 

When you have assembled the raviolis, you can fry them in some vegetable oil and top them with parmeggiano and salt. Or, you can boil them for 2-3 minutes at a low boil. They are done when they float. If you boil too hard, they will fall apart. Remove from water and top with parmeggiano and a drizzle of good olive oil. Amazing! 

These cannot be assembled far ahead of time, so it could be a fun pre-dinner activity for your guests. They will be amazed at the taste and your ingenuity!

Hope you enjoyed the recipes! I'll be back with a post on my exercise routine and how it changes for winter, the science of how food smells delicious, and the final metabolism post. Have a great week!

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