i first heard of this concept in fresh air’s interview with ruth reichl, who recounted it as one of her favorites with such detail that i became obsessed with figuring it out. after scooping out the innards, i roasted up the seeds with salt & curry spices while reading up on how execute the recipe.
i made a vegetarian version [using vegetable stock], substituted parmesan for swiss cheese, and skipped the bread crumbs and heavy cream. i also chopped up an apple from our apple picking adventure because it’s fall and i thought it would be fun. turns out i am right about both fall & fun!
the pumpkin i used wasn’t as big as called for, and still, it fed us 2 hearty meals [4 bowls]. you’re probably thinking once you’re done, you just throw it on the compost heap—but there’s still a lot more mileage you can get out of this empty, cooked squash once the soup has been eaten.
i am really into mixing things up, turning sweet things savory & vice-versa. for the last few years, i’ve been experimenting with savory pumpkin pies, and though this seems like an obvious fall dish to me, when i tell people about it, i often get a reaction that suggests it’s a crazy idea. in my opinion, it’s a crazy GOOD idea.
normally, to make any type of pumpkin pie, you would start by cooking a pumpkin. since you already have a savory-seasoned, cooked pumpkin shell, all you have to do is cut it in quarters [or in pieces comfortable to handle] and scrape the remaining flesh into a bowl, similar to how you might eat a cantaloupe with a spoon.
i collected about 3 cups of cooked pumpkin from mine. once you know about how much you have, here’s one way to deal with it:
1 sheet puff pastry
2 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs white wine vinegar
3 large ribs celery, sliced crosswise
10 medium shiitake mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese + more for the top
spices [interpret to your favorite style]:
1 tb cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt [i used homemade lemon salt]
1 tsp black pepper
1. set out your sheet of puff pastry to defrost, and preheat the oven to 350.
2. in a medium frying pan, saute chopped onion in olive oil and white wine vinegar over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. add minced garlic and saute 2 more minutes. add chopped celery and a splash of water, turn down heat to low and cover.
3. add to your bowl of cooked pumpkin 2 eggs, the parmesan cheese, and spice mix. mix well.
4. after 5 minutes, return to your frying pan add the mushrooms and toss to coat. cook uncovered until liquid either cooks away or is absorbed. remove from heat and add to the pumpkin mixture and mix well.
5. place your puff pastry in a 9″ baking dish, allowing it to line the bottom and sides of the dish. cut to fit, or wrap irregular edges—your choice. spoon in the pumpkin mixture, spread evenly and sprinkle grated parmesan and black pepper over the top. bake 1 hour at 350.
here’s what mine looked like going into the oven. is it a work of art? no! is it going to be delicious? yes! is this a recipe you can modify? absolutely! only a few of the ingredients are interdependent, such as the addition of eggs to the pumpkin mix, the ratio of added vegetables, and the use of a crust. you can switch out the cheese and modify the spices however you like. you can substitute the celery or mushrooms if they’re not your thing [though i’d consider substituting other vegetables in, like peppers, carrots, chard, more onion or add breadcrumbs to keep the pumpkin from being to heavy or solid]. the point is, this is an interpretive dish where you let the pumpkin be the substrate for any flavors you like, and you enjoy the fact that you had so many meals out of one single squash. enjoy!