UGH! Thanksgiving is right around the corner…two weeks if my calendar is correct. One year Craig used his computer’s calendar to book his annual turkey day trip to be with his family back East. He flew home a week early because he had some bootleg software that gave the wrong date for Thanksgiving. Needless to say, no one has let him live that down.
I’m never in charge of making an entire Thanksgiving Day dinner. I am however, always responsible for making the turkey and either a side dish or dessert. I love my turkey (what’s not to love, I brine it and cook it in lots of beer and wine – at least pretend to be shocked), but for me…Thanksgiving side dishes are the stuff of love (I can’t say memories because those are created during and after dinner, since we do wine pairings with our dinner). Usually, I get asked to bring a dessert because it’s pretty well known that any side dish I bring will be a healthy side dish, where a dessert is nothing short of sinful.
Last year I learned that I liked pumpkin. I realize at my age I should already know these things about myself, but as I stated in my malted pumpkin spice cake post, I have an extreme dislike of pumpkin pie. Prior to cooking with it a year ago, I had never had pumpkin in any other form, but pie. Ever since, I’ve been roasting pumpkin as soon as it comes into season. Wanna learn a neat trick? Use sugar pie pumpkins in your Fall decorating and then using them to cook with. I rotate out the pumpkins throughout the season.
I wasn’t able to find a roasted pumpkin recipe last year (except for making puree), so I just started experimenting. If you try doing a search for fresh pumpkin recipes, most of what you’ll find is for pumpkin pie or pumpkin soup. Well, I’m here to help your search. Roasted pumpkins can take the place in almost any side dish recipe that calls for roasted winter squash. Yes the flavor is a bit different and the cooking times may also differ, but the color and consistency is very similar to other winter squash.
I’ve accumulated quite a few fresh pumpkin recipes, but this is currently my favorite roasted pumpkin recipe. It’s simple and really let’s the flavors of all of the ingredients really shine. Yes, this is a healthy side dish – I’ve come clean and admitted it. But just because it’s healthy, doesn’t mean it can’t taste really good. I realize that Thanksgiving and healthy aren’t generally spoken in the same sentence – unless it’s preceded by ‘un.’ I’m here to say that there’s room on that table for both unhealthy and healthy Thanksgiving side dishes.
- Your family is not the Walton’s, don’t expect them to be on this one day of the year. You’ve got a narcoleptic Aunt Betty, an uncle Fred who’s never seen a bit of alcohol he didn’t like. Your mom is neurotic about the seating arrangements and what time dinner begins and ends. Your dad can’t miss a second of the football action. Your nephew hates peas and turns into Linda Blair when your sister makes him eat a forkful. Rest assured, you are not the only one who is suffering through things like this on that day…you are in good company.
- Don’t try to take on the entire project of making dinner by yourself. You’re not a chef. When people offer to help or to bring something…take them up on it. They aren’t offering out of pity and they’re not offering because they feel like they should – they are actually being sincere.
- You detest our Aunt Sally and Uncle Fred (and detest is putting it lightly). Avoid them. The house isn’t so small that you can’t get some space between you. When you see one or both of them approaching, find something to do in the other room – there’s always something to do somewhere on Thanksgiving. If they aren’t taking the hint and keep following you around like a lost puppy, suck it up and see what they have to say. Nod your head in agreement a couple of times and excuse yourself. You’ve put in your obligatory time. When all else fails, tell them you’ve been a bit under the weather and you wouldn’t want them to get too close and get sick.
- Just can’t take it anymore but it’s too early to leave (like you’ve been there 15 minutes and dinner hasn’t been served yet)? Excuse yourself to another room. Tell your host you need to like down because you’ve (pick one) had a headache all day, haven’t been feeling well or want to leave but it would be rude so I need to be alone before telling everyone there how much you despise all of them.
Just know that no matter what your situation is for that day, it’s not permanent and there are thousands of people in your exact same predicament at the exact same time. Raise a toast to surviving the first date in a very long holiday season.
Recipe: Roasted Pumpkin with Manchego Pesto
For Roasted Pumpkin
- 1 Sugar Pie Pumpkin (size depends on number of people you’re serving)
- Olive Oil
- Kosher Salt
For Manchego Pesto
- 1/4 Cup Raw Pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
- 1/4 Cup Manchego Cheese (cut to small cubes)
- 2 Cloves Roasted Garlic
- Kosher Salt
- Fresh Ground Black Pepper
- Olive Oil
For Roasted Pumpkin
- Preheat Oven to 500 degrees Farenheit.
- Cut pumpkin in half from the top (stem) down.
- Clean out the seeds and strings from inside the pumpkin. Save seeds for later roasting.
- Slice pumpkin into 3/4″ – 1″ wedges and peel off skin with peeler.
- Place pumpkin slices on large baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over the top of the pumpkin. Using your hands, rub the oil onto all of the slices.
- Place garlic cloves into a small piece of foil. Drizzle olive oil over the garlic. Close up the foil around the garlic cloves leaving a seam on top.
- Place pumpkin and garlic into the oven.
- Cook for 25 – 30 minutes. (This time could vary depending on the moisture content of your pumpkin. It’s done when the edges are a golden brown.)
- Remove pumpkin and garlic from the oven.
For Manchego Pesto
- While the pumpkin is cooking…
- Add the pepitas, garlic, a pinch of kosher salt, a few grinds of black pepper and 2 tablespoons of olive oil to your food processor (should use a small processor, but could also use a mortar and pestle). Turn on the processor and puree until pepitas are still in large chunks.
- Add the manchego cheese to the processor and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Puree until pepitas are quite small but manchego is still fairly chunky.
- Continue adding olive oil until the desired consistency is reached,
- To serve, place several pieces of pumpkin on a plate and drizzle with pesto.
Preparation time: 20 minute(s)
Cooking time: 30 minute(s)
Diet type: Vegetarian
Diet tags: Gluten free
Number of servings (yield): 6
Culinary tradition: USA (General)
Welcome to My Man's Belly! Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about the site or if there's a recipe you'd like to see here. Have a great day.