11.02.2009

Squashing Pumpkins {Sorrel Pesto Recipe}



People seem to give up on pumpkins after Halloween. Not me. While pumpkins don’t always get carved in our home, they do often get baked, split open and seeds removed, drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted at 375 until they are soft and squishy {about 1 1/2 hours, depending on the size}.

It’s the grounding nature of pumpkin, its subtly sweet flavor and long lasting energy that has me hooked. But it could also be a subconscious appreciation for the high doses of potassium {known to control blood pressure} and beta-carotene {a cancer-fighting antioxidant} it delivers that seem to reward with a satisfying sensation that few vegetables give all on their own.

But, in truth, it is probably the fact that it comes together as a beautifully healthful dinner in no time when I pair it with homemade sorrel pesto and serve it on a platter along side a glass of good wine.

Pesto, like pumpkin, could be fairly forgettable in the wrong hands. But not in your hands, my friend. Think of pesto as the little black dress of your culinary wardrobe -- Simple, classic, reliable. Give it a few garnishes and you’ve got a stunner on your hands. That’s what’s sorrel does to pesto.

Sorrel is the little engine that could of our garden, growing upward and onward despite weekly clippings, near frosts, and weeks of gloom and gray. It’s somewhere between a green and an herb, too acidic to become a salad, too leafy to waste simply on the occasional chiffonade but brilliant when blended with pine nuts, parmesan, garlic and olive oil, à la pesto.

Sorrel pesto {or any pesto} can be made on the spot, but it’s the perfect thing to make in advance and tuck into the fridge or freezer for a rainy day. And you’ll be glad you did since this modern pesto makes a quick and elegant accoutrement to almost anything from crudités to skirt steak to roasted veggies. Which brings me back to the pumpkin you were roasting while we were talking here. Put it on a lovely platter, drizzle on your fresh pesto, and presto, it’s dinner.



{click recipe to enlarge}

This simple supper came together so effortlessly last Monday night that I forgot to take a picture, inspiring a repeat performance later in the week with acorn squash, a certifiably successful substitute that earned three stars from my most trusted taster.

By the way, you can use the same method to roast pumpkins {or squash} for fresh puree, which is not only the basis for delicious pumpkin breads and pies, but makes a divine little dinner for your lil’ pumpkin too. After roasting, allow pumpkin to cool enough to handle, scrape the flesh from the skin with a fork and put it through a food mill or food processor.

2 comments:

Lola said...

I am craving pumpkins now! :)

Brittany (He Cooks She Cooks) said...

Love the sorrel pesto idea! I've been making variations of chimichurri to have on hand for the week after you mentioned your 'arsenal of flavor.'

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Sarah Copeland is a food and lifestyle expert, and the author of Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite, and The Newlywed Cookbook. She is the Food Director at Real Simple magazine, and has appeared in numerous national publications including Saveur, Health, Fitness, Shape, Martha Stewart Living and Food & Wine magazines. As a passionate gardener, Sarah's Edible Living philosophy aims to inspire good living through growing, cooking and enjoying delicious, irresistible whole foods. She thrives on homegrown veggies, stinky cheese and chocolate cake. Sarah lives in New York with her husband and their young daughter.