*Photo Credit: Kita Centella
There are two types of people: those who LOVE pumpkin spice-flavored everything, and those who hear those words and run. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of middle ground (although I suspect that the haters secretly like pumpkin spice, but don’t want to be associated with what they negatively perceive to be a “pumpkin spice lifestyle”).
So what I’m proposing here is something completely different: Savory Baked Pumpkin. This particular recipe has absolutely no “pumpkin spice” flavor, and makes a perfect side dish for your Fall table.
Nutritionally, pumpkin is considered to be a superfood. Pumpkin is rich in potassium, and contains loads of beta carotene, which is not only great for your eyes, it neutralizes free radicals that cause cellular damage and cancer.
Beta carotene provides benefits to your skin, helping you maintain a more youthful appearance. You can use cooked pumpkin as a facial masque to nourish the skin directly.
Pumpkin is rich in fiber, pretty awesome for your digestive system, plus it helps you feel full longer. If you’re trying to lose weight, eat pumpkin. It tastes so rich and satisfying that you won’t feel deprived.
This recipe calls for 2 fresh sugar pumpkins. These are NOT the large jack-o-lantern variety; sugar pumpkins are small (2-4 lbs.) with a firm sweet flesh that’s not stringy like the jack-o-lantern variety of pumpkin. Sugar pumpkins are what pumpkin pies are made from.
Because pumpkin is a member of the squash family, the unsweetened cooked flesh lends itself to a variety of different flavors. Pumpkin makes a wonderful ingredient in Indian curries, Mexican chili dishes, and Italian dishes.
The following recipe is simple and rustic, and can be enjoyed as is, or as a base for your own culinary creativity. I love to enjoy simple food prepared well, but have included some fun and tasty ways to serve and enjoy this healthy dish.
Food is medicine at its very best and most pleasurable. The following recipe is a perfect example of this.
For the basic recipe, you will need:
- 2 organic sugar pumpkins
- 4 sprigs each of fresh sage and fresh thyme
- 8 large garlic cloves
- Good salt (Himalayan, mineral, or other)
- Preheat oven to 400
- Remove the stems from the pumpkins, and cut in half. Scoop out the seeds (save them for roasting) and place the pumpkins face up in a pyrex baking dish, and sprinkle them with a tiny pinch of salt.
- Peel the garlic cloves and cut in half lengthwise
- Place 4 of the cut garlic cloves in each pumpkin.
- On each pumpkin, place a sprig each of sage and thyme.
- Pour 1/4 to 1/2 inch of water in the bottom of the baking dish, and loosely cover the dish with a tent of foil. Pop it in the oven and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the foil tent and bake for another 10 minutes or so, in order to cook off the moisture inside the pumpkin cavity.
- When the pumpkin is soft, remove from the oven. Most of the thyme leaves will have fallen off the stems, so just remove the stems. The sage flavor can be strong for some tastes, so you can either remove them or leave them.
- Now it’s time to mash the garlic and herbs into the pumpkin. I like to mash it coarsely, but you can make it as smooth as you like. It’s my personal preference to leave the pumpkin in its skin, but feel free to scoop out the flesh and transfer it to a serving dish.
- Drizzle on some fruity olive oil, with a sprinkling of salt and fresh pepper.
You can serve it as is, which is rather simple and rustic, or add some culinary “bling”:
- Chipotle powder adds smoky spice
- Nutmeg provides earthy depth
- Smother with fresh chives
- For those who enjoy cheese, stir in some creamy sheep or goat feta
We’d love to hear about your favorite fall dishes! Please like, share your comments, and pass this recipe along!
Happy healthy eating!