It’s almost Halloween and halfway between Canadian and American Thanksgivings. What pulls these events together is one glorious fruit – the pumpkin!
There was a time when pumpkins had very little sex appeal, relegated to pie filling and Jack-o’-lanterns. How times change. Seems like you can’t walk into a coffee shop without seeing a pumpkin spice latte on the specials board. I remember reading somewhere that the demand for pumpkin production has dramatically increased since Starbucks introduced their now infamous beverage.
If you follow any Pinterest boards this is the time of year to see every type of pumpkin dish or pumpkin spice creation. From delicious pies (traditional, gluten-free, and sugar-free) to cooking pumpkin as a soup, or a side dish.
A few weeks ago my parents came for a visit. I invited them for a special lunch to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. Of course they came bearing gifts from the local farmers market, including a few types of squash, and a pumpkin.
I didn’t want to make a pie from the pumpkin because we were going to have that at my partner’s family for Canadian Thanksgiving the following weekend. I wanted to make something delicious with the pumpkin to go with a main meal. I also wanted it to be easy and to look amazing.
Pumpkin is a funny thing. When you cut it open it’s mostly hollow inside. From the outside it looks like you’re going to get so much, but once you cut it apart there’s not much to work with. The hardest part of this spicy coconut pumpkin slices recipe is removing the “strings” and the seeds – they really stick! As you scoop out the seeds take care not to scrape too hard against the inside, otherwise you’ll start removing what’s good to eat.
To make this dish look amazing I went for slices. This is how you will wow your quests at a dinner party. Serve the pumpkin slices a few to a plate, on a serving platter, or right off the baking sheet on your table.
I’ve used a combination of spices to excite your taste buds and to harken back to traditional pumpkin spice. Cumin and turmeric always pair well together and are my go-to spices. Cinnamon is a pumpkin spice standard. Cayenne pepper will hit your tongue with a spark of heat, which will quickly mellow as you chew each fork-full of pumpkin.
Note that I’ve provided measures for the spices, but they are all general recommendations. I didn’t measure, instead I sprinkled the spices over the pan from the spice jars. Use your fingers to spread the spices over the pumpkin flesh if there’s too much on one area. You want to taste the pumpkin flavoured by the spices, not a clump of spice.
There are different heat classifications of cayenne pepper. I used a very hot cayenne that’s around 80,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). To get a sense of how hot that is, I added one teaspoon to a slow cooker stew that made 6-8 servings and it was far too hot – and I like it hot! If you can handle the heat get a moderate to hot cayenne, but carefully dust it over the sliced pumpkin. This is the only spice I’d recommend measuring out so that you don’t kill your enjoyment of this wonderful recipe.
P.S. Did you know that pumpkin is actually a fruit? Yup, it’s considered a fruit because it grows from a flower and it has seeds. However, for the sake of how I categorize foods on my site for menu planning, I’ve put this recipe under vegetables.
Eat well to be well!
Spicy Coconut Pumpkin Squash Slices
Tools Needed: Roasting pan or baking sheet, parchment paper, sharp knife, large spoon.
Wash the outside of the pumpkin to remove any dirt.
Cut off the stem and the bottom. Try to remove as little as possible.
Cut the pumpkin in half, through the top where the stem was.
Remove the seeds and the "strings" as best you can with a large spoon. Scrape along the inside flesh of the pumpkin, but be careful not to scrape too hard, otherwise you will remove the edible part. Discard or save the seeds if you want to toast them for a delicious snack. (See link for recipe below).
Cut one of the pumpkin halves down the middle through the stem. Carefully cut the halves into three or four slices. This will depend on how big of a pumpkin you're working with. Repeat with the other half.
Line a baking sheet or rectangular roasting pan with parchment paper. If the coconut oil is hard, measure it out onto the parchment and either put the pan in the oven for the oil to melt, or let it rest on the top jet with the oven exhaust. When melted, spread the oil evenly over the parchment paper and dust the spices over the pan.
Lay the pumpkin slices on the parchment and turn once to coat both sides with the spices and oil.
Put in the oven in the middle or one up from the bottom rack and bake for 35-45 minutes. No need to turn the pumpkin. They will be done when you can easily slide a fork into the flesh.