Just when I think I am going to sink into a complete depression about the end of summer, something truly magical happens…fall! Even though the weather in southern California does not always make the change in seasons very evident, other things do. Pumpkin inspired delicacies begin to show up everywhere. Pumpkin lattes, pumpkin bread, pumpkin infused beer…I even found pumpkin granola on the shelves of my favorite grocery store this year. In addition to enjoying the pumpkin flavors, actual pumpkins find themselves around my house as decorations. The bright orange colors and myriad of shapes distract me from the fact that our long summer days are over and help me welcome fall with open arms. I am all for using multiple types of squash for decoration, both edible and decorative. However, a problem does seem to arise as we move from the fall holidays to the winter ones. Pumpkins and other squash do not quite have a place when I am decking the halls with boughs of holly. I have contemplated spray painting them silver and gold, but have always talked myself out of it due to the inevitable mess. This year I came up with a much better solution…I am going to eat them! Well, I am going to eat most of them. Some pumpkins and other squash are not at all edible, and some are just not good. Be sure to get the facts!
Pumpkin flesh is sweet, which is why it is most often used for desserts, like pumpkin pie. But, it also has a slightly nutty flavor when roasted or sautéed, making it ideal for savory dishes as well. Last year I visited my sister in Australia and we had an amazing pumpkin curry dish. I have been thinking of it fondly ever since, which is actually one of the reasons I decided to eat up my decorations this year. After talking to her last night and discussing the recipe I came up with, I realize that it is nothing like the dish we shared nearly a year ago. Nonetheless, that dish inspired me to eat more pumpkin, if nothing else. Maybe someday I will recreate the actual dish, ideally side by side with my sister. In the meantime, this pumpkin stew is delicious.
Curried Pumpkin Stew
1 medium sugar pumpkin; 2 ½ – 3 cups, cubed – instructions for cubing a pumpkin
1 tablespoon coconut oil, or olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon cardamom
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 medium onion, diced
1 teaspoon tumeric
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 cup yellow lentils, rinsed
1 tomato, diced
4 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon brown mustard seed
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
½ cup cilantro, chopped
juice of half a lemon
salt to taste
Heat coconut oil in large pot, add cubed pumpkin, cardamom, cumin and brown sugar. Stir the pumpkin to coat with spices and sugar. Sauté, stirring infrequently to brown the pumpkin and create a slight crust. Add the onion, tumeric and garlic, sauté until onion has cooked down and becomes translucent. Add lentils, tomato and broth. Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer for 20-30 minutes, until pumpkin is soft and lentils have absorbed most of the liquid.
Add the rest of the spices, allow to simmer for 10 more minutes. Finally, add the cilantro and juice of half a lemon. Taste and add more red pepper or salt if necessary.
Serve over brown rice with a dollop of yogurt on top and a slice of naan on the side.
Recipe inspired by Aarti Sequeira, www.foodnetwork.com, and loosely by Ricepot, Sydney Australia.
Thumbnail Photo Credit goes to SheKnows