I love fall, the crispness of the air, the changing colours, the return to comfort food in our kitchens. I do not love all the pumpkin spice that comes along with fall! I admit that a good pumpkin spice mixture is critical for that Thanksgiving pie (mine is a combination of not too much cinnamon, ginger; allspice; cloves and lots of nutmeg), but pumpkin spice potato chips, pumpkin spice gum and pumpkin spice dog treats...it has all gotten a little out of hand!
After my pumpkin pies are made for Thanksgiving dinner, I rally against pumpkin sweets and the proliferations of pumpkin spice. I prefer to tame their sweetness and and use this delicious and nutritious fruit for my dinner instead of my dessert. One of my favourite ways to enjoy sugar pumpkins is in a quesadilla.
It is important to choose the right pumpkin for cooking or baking and the right pumpkin is a sugar pumpkin. Sugar pumpkins, or pie pumpkins, are much smaller than the jack-o-lantern pumpkins we all carved as kids. They are typically 15 – 20 cm in diameter. Sugar pumpkins are best for cooking, as their flesh is smooth and intensely flavoured, and not stringy like the flesh of the larger pumpkins.
This recipe balances the sweetness of the pumpkin with a little spice from jalapenos and a little salt from feta cheese. I use whole-wheat tortillas because I find their slightly nutty flavour works well with the pumpkin, but feel free to use regular tortillas if that is what is in your pantry. I like to serve it was a fresh homemade salsa made with chopped tomato, diced onion and squeeze of lime juice.
Roasted Sugar Pumpkin Quesadillas
1 kg sugar pumpkin
olive oil, for brushing
1 jalepeno, chopped & seeded
8 whole wheat tortillas
250g feta cheese, crumbled
1 ½ cup cilantro, chopped
Preheat oven to 400 Halve pumpkin and seed. Brush exposed flesh with olive oil and place cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until pumpkin is very soft, about 30 – 45 minutes.
Scrape pumpkin flesh away from peel and place in medium bowl. Mash the pumpkin with a large fork and stir in the jalapeño, ½ cup of the cilantro and the juice from ½ a lime. Season with salt and pepper. Cut remaining ½ of lime into four wedges.
Place four tortillas on a work surface and spread ¼ of the pumpkin mixture on each tortilla. Sprinkle cilantro and feta cheese over pumpkin, top with remaining tortillas.
Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat and cook quesadillas until dark and crispy on each side, about 1 minutes per side. Keep warm until all quesadillas are cooked. Serve with lime wedges.
recipe adapted from BonAppetit Magazine