Monday, October 10, 2011

pumpkin purée & roasted seeds

While canned pumpkin may make a showing when there is nothing else, I really do like making my own pumpkin purée. The canned stuff is not usually even from pie pumpkins (but from some butternut type of squash). It is easy, although it takes planning ahead if you want to make a pie or cake or bread. This time of year I find it easiest to stick a tray of pumpkin in to roast every time I use the oven - and the freeze it for later!

So, to start. Take a pie pumpkin. Not a huge carving pumpkin (not so tasty) but the smaller ones that will be called pie pumpkins. Clean. Cut off the top. Cut in half or quarters.

Scoop out all of the pulp/seeds (save those!). Place in a baking dish in a 350ºF oven (I usually do cut side down, but you don't have to), and bake for 30-45 minutes, until the pumpkin is soft.

Let cool. Peel back the skins, use a knife if you need a little help. Some pumpkins are more liquidy than others, so I like to put the scraped pulp first into a strainer and let sit for a bit for the extra juice to drip out. From there you can smooth however you like - whiz in a blender or food processor, run through a food mill, or simply use a potato masher. Put into a container and freeze, or use immediately!

Now, what to do with all of those seeds? Take the pulpy seedy blobs and run your fingers through to extract as many seeds as you can. Don't worry if there are tiny bits of pumpkin still in there. Take your pumpkin seeds and put into a saucepan. Just cover with water, and add a nice big pinch of sea salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain. Most recipes skip this step but boiling them with a pinch of salt first really gives them better flavor, and the outer husk part is not as tough so it is crunchy but delicious.

Place a teaspoon of oil (I used sunflower oil) on a cookie sheet, and pour your pumpkin seeds over it. Use your fingers to coat all of the seeds. Now, add your seasoning. Sea salt, brown sugar, paprika, chili powder...find your favorite!

Today I used 1/2 teaspoon of yellow curry powder, 1 Tbsp of dark brown sugar, and a pinch of sea salt. SO good.

Gently stir the pumpkin seeds to coat in your seasoning mix. Spread evenly on the sheet and place in your oven while you are baking the pumpkin chunks. Stir every 15 minutes or so, and continue baking in the oven until they are golden - about 30-45 minutes, depending on how many seeds you have on the tray (all pumpkins are different, so...). Remove from oven and let cool.

SO good! I am using these pumpkin seeds (well, what I have not eaten!) in a trail mix. And tomorrow I'm making a batch of pumpkin butter with the puree.

pumpkin seeds:: "Pumpkin seeds are a very good source of the minerals phosphorus, magnesium and manganese. They are also a good source of other minerals including zinc, iron and copper. In addition, pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein and vitamin K."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

lentil millet chili

I love chili on cold days. I just don't always like the bigger chewy beans. This chili uses lentils and millet. The smell, texture and flavor are totally chili and the lentils and millet add such an earthy tone. This so so so good, and made in a slow cooker bubbles away all day filling the house with amazing aroma. This can be made with or without meat. Both are fantastic!

::lentil millet chili::

2 cups dried lentils–any kind (I used 1/2 green, 1/2 red)
2 cups cooked millet (see below)
16 oz canned tomatoes, or 3-4 large diced tomatoes
1 cup tomato paste or juice (I use homemade so it is more juicy, you can also just use 1 can tomato paste)
4-6 cups stock
1 large onion, diced
1 pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp ground cumin
3 tsp paprika
1 tsp coriander powder
1+ tsp chili powder (to taste/heat)
2 tsp salt, or to taste
freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 Tbsp corn flour (optional)

freshly chopped chives or cilantro for serving
sour cream or plain yogurt for serving

Add a bit of oil to a hot large pan, and toss in the onions and garlic. Saute for a few minutes, add the peppers. Let cook for a few minutes, stirring gently. If you want meat, add up to a pound of ground beef or turkey and stir until browned. Empty the pan into your crock pot. Return pan to heat, add in the tomatoes, stock, and tomato paste and stir in the lentils. Bring to a boil. Pour into crock pot. Add all of the spices. Add the warm cooked millet. Stir. Cook on high for 1 hour, reduce heat to low and simmer in the crock pot for 4-6 hours.

In the last 30 minutes add 1 Tbsp corn flour/harina (optional) to thicken the chili. The millet thickens it a bit, but if you like really thick chili, the corn flour does it. Stir in the chopped parsley in the last 30 minutes as well. Add any additional salt/pepper to taste.

Serve with some fresh cilantro, grated cheese, chopped chives, a spoon of plain yogurt or sour cream...all great.

The stock measurement has a range because your liquid needs may vary depending on what kind of lentils you use. Start with the base amount, and after a few hours add more if it needs it. You want enough liquid for the lentils to absorb and plump up, but not be too thick or dry.

To cook millet:
Add 1 cup of millet to a hot sauce pan. Lightly pan toast them, don't burn. Add 2 cups of water or stock and a pinch of sea salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer with the lid on 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat, and add to the chili using a fork (don't stir or scoop hard, or it will clump).

Lentils are an excellent source of molybdenum and folate. They are a very good source of dietary fiber and manganese and a good source of iron, protein, phosphorus, copper, thiamin and potassium.

Millet is a good source of some very important nutrients, including manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium! It is also gluten-free.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

csa box:: week 15

in the box:: beets, carrots, kale, lettuce, spaghetti squash, tomatillos, variety of tomatoes, pepper, onions, garlic, potatoes, cilantro.

extras I bought this week:: potatoes, butternut squash, oregano, chives, thyme, cilantro

What is in season where you live? How long is your growing season?