October 1, 2012

Hot & Sweet Pumpkin Spice

Fall is perhaps my favorite time of year. I'll say that often over the next few weeks :) after which it will be an endless season of annoyance (I hate winter!). As for fall, I love the food, the festivities and of course, the rustle of falling leaves as they blow in the wind. Most of all I love the color. To me a crisp fall day has more beautiful colors than any flower-filled spring.

Hot & Sweet Pumpkin Spice
While I love pumpkin spice and all things made with pumpkin spice, I must admit (rather shamefully) that I have never cooked pumpkin myself. Growing up it wasn't my favorite vegetable. I never understood the concept of a 'sweet' vegetable - I always told my mom that sweet vegetables (carrots, turnips, pumpkins) weren't meant to be made into curries and stews .... aah! ... the ignorance of youth!! Today, the lovely pumpkin becomes New Veggie #46. Even though I named this concoction 'pumpkin spice' - it is quite different from the standard American version.

Prep Time: 20 min

  1. 1 Pie Pumpkin (~3lbs)
  2. 1 small Red Onion
  3. 1 tsp minced Garlic
  4. 1/2 cup Vegetable broth
  5. 2 tsp Mustard seeds, or 2 tsp Indian Five Spice mix* 
  6. 1 cup frozen Peas
  7. 2 tsp of Cayenne Pepper
  8. 2 tbsp Maple Syrup (or brown sugar) 
  9. Salt to taste
Wash all dirt from the outside of the pumpkin and remove any blemished skin with a sharp paring knife. Then cut the pumpkin in half down the stem and remove seeds and pulp from the cavity (set aside seeds to roast separately as a snack). 

Cut wedges out of each half and cut into 1" pieces.  Leaving the skin on provides extra nutrition and also ensures that once cooked, the pumpkin pieces retain some of their shape. Else, everything it will cook down into a pulp. 

Line a stock pot with  vegetable broth and add garlic and mustard seeds (or 5 spice mix if available). Bring it all to a boil and add the onion and cook until the onion becomes translucent. 

Add diced pumpkin and mix well together. Cover and cook until pumpkin is tender and almost mushy. Make sure that there is enough water in the pan so that the pumpkin remains nicely moist.  The extra moisture makes sure that the skin cooks well and doesn't become hard during cooking, which makes it quite unpleasant in the end. 

When the pumpkin is almost done, add thawed peas and mix well so that the peas are coated in the thick sauce surrounding the pumpkin. Cover and cook until both the peas and the pumpkin are nice and soft under a spoon. 

Finally, add the cayenne pepper and maple syrup (or brown sugar), to taste until the dish has a nice sweet flavor with a lasting zip ;) at the end. Enjoy over brown rice!!

* Indian Five Spice Mix - Combine equal quantities of nigella (black onion), mustard, fenugreek, fennel and cumin seeds and use as needed. If you're missing one or two, its not a big deal. I've often used only one or two alone.

My Assessment: Yumm!! This dish reminded me of younger days. It makes for a great sweet and spicy  one-pot dinner - but the cayenne pepper makes sure that it is not for the weak of heart ;)

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