Pumpkin Curry & Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

 

Pumpkin Curry

Pumpkin Curry

 

Last week I brought home this adorable pumpkin to set on my porch steps for the fall holidays.   Seeing it one day reminded me of a night a few months ago when I had this delicious pumpkin & squash curry at a little Thai restaurant in North Beach.  Alas, my pumpkin was not destined to be a decoration, as I began to imagine how to create this scrumptious meal, and some festive treats for Halloween as well.  Pumkins are very practical food sources – you can use them to create a number of recipes simultaneously, such as stir-fry, soups, pies or muffins.  When you are finished baking, you can toast up the seeds for a nutritious snack. 

 

To prepare the pumpkin, first I wash it and then I grab a heavy knife.  Be careful here, as cutting any kind of pumpkin or squash is dangerous.  Usually I remove the stem first, by scoring a circle around the edge with the knife, then giving it a good pull.  Then begin at the top and work the knife down one side, then the other, always keeping a good grip on the side of the pumpkin that is away from the knife.  Once you have cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the pulp with the seeds and set it aside.  Use a spoon to scrape the inside free of the stringy pulp. 

 

A medium-sized pumpkin is the perfect size to make both this pumpkin curry recipe as well as pureed pumpkin for baking.  I use one half of the pumpkin for the curry and the other for the puree.  For the stir-frying-half, I use a strong vegetable peeler to peel the outer skin off the pumpkin.  You may have to cut it again in half to reach all angles.  Once the skin is removed, I dice it up into one- or two-inch cubes.  Place the pieces in a casserole dish.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and bake for about 45 minutes.  

 

 

Wrap the other half of the pumpkin, intact, in aluminum foil.  Bake it at the same temperature, along with the cubed pumpkin, but leave it in the oven for about an hour.  (You want the pumpkin puree to be soft enough to blend easily, while keeping the cubed pumkin slightly firmer for stir-frying.)  Set this half aside to cool after baking.  Then later, you can scoop out the pumpkin from the shell and puree it in a food processor.  You can either use it immediately for baking, or refrigerate or freeze it for later.

 

Pumpkin Curry 

 

Now, for the pumpkin curry.  While the pumpkin is baking in the oven, I start boiling some brown rice and chopping up some vegetables and tofu for the stir-fry.  I use all vegan ingredients:

 

1 shallot, chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, pressed

1 small block firm tofu, cubed

1 medium zucchini, sliced

1 red bell pepper, julienned

1 bunch thai basil leaves

2-3 T sesame oil

1 tsp salt

1 can lite coconut milk

2 tsp curry powder (more or less, to taste)

 

Heat the sesame oil (I use 1/2 toasted sesame oil and 1/2 regular) in a large skillet.  Add the tofu cubes, shallot, and garlic; toss until browned.  Add the zucchini and bell pepper, toss for another minute or two.  Add the pumpkin cubes, coconut milk, curry powder, salt and fresh thai basil leaves.  Simmer for about 10 minutes, until thick and fragrant.  Serve over brown rice.

 

 

Depending on the size of your pumpkin, makes 3-4 servings.

 

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

 

One of my favorite things about baking pumpkins is toasting the seeds!  If you throw them away, you are missing out on a tasty treat.  Though the outer shells can be a bit chewy, they are edible and are a great source of fiber.  Pumpkin seeds are generally easy to separate from the pulp.  Place them in a colander and rinse thoroughly.  Spread them out on a sheet of parchment paper and set aside overnight to dry.  Then heat up a pan with a little canola oil, toast for 5-10 minutes (stirring constantly) until golden and aromatic, sprinkle with salt & your choice of seasoning (garlic powder, cayenne peper, etc.); enjoy. 

 

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