Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pumpkin Comfort: Pumpkin Bliss Salad and Twice Baked Pumpkin Penne

Warning: For those that read further than this sentence, this post makes the art of portion control a lost one.

It all started with a massive 16-pound pumpkin on Friday. This would be the last one I would roast this season, to make both homemade pumpkin puree and some freshly chopped pumpkin to use this weekend in a variety of comfort recipes. From this:

To this:

and this

 I also made some delicious pumpkin chocolate chip cookies with pumpkin buttercream frosting. I'm sure I've far exceeded my vitamin A requirement for a pregnant and nursing mother with the amount of pumpkin I consumed in just this weekend.

My pumpkin bliss salad, I'm proud to say, was my own creation. The only thing I copied was the caramelized brussel sprouts from the Grilled Cheese Social. If you really want to indulge when making this salad, you may need to go out of your way to find goat butter. I used this kind, which I found at my grocery store a few months ago, and I've been waiting to tear it open to make something good! You'll also want to pick up some top-notch goat cheese. You've already done the hard work of cutting up a pumpkin. May as well do this right.

My 21-month-old son loved the basic ingredients in this "salad".

Twice Baked Pumpkin Penne is pretty much all thanks to this recipe from How Sweet it Is. I wouldn't have changed anything, as the recipe is brilliant, but I didn't want to use butternut squash since I spent my son's precious nap time on Friday cubing a massive pumpkin. I also couldn't find mascarpone cheese, and so I used creme fraiche instead, and I decided to throw some veggies in the mix to add some extra comfort and flavor. Yum.

This may sound presumptuous, but you're welcome.

Pumpkin Bliss Salad

Makes approximately 5 salads

1 lb raw brussel sprouts
1/2 yellow onion, chopped coarsley
2 lbs chopped pumpkin, cut into 1-2 inch cubes
1/3 cup roasted salted almonds
4 tablespoons of goat milk butter, divided
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 cups baby spinach, raw
5-6 oz goat cheese
1/3 cup dried cranberries 
1 can sliced beets, or 2 beets, roasted and cubed

To caramelize the brussel sprouts: Steam the brussel sprouts until they're tender but still crunchy. Let them cool a bit, then cut off the bottoms and half them. Save all the leaves that fall off. Heat one tablespoon of goat butter in a medium skillet over medium heat, then add the chopped onion. Once the onion is tender and translucent, add another tablespoon of goat butter, and the brussel sprouts and loose leaves. Turn the heat up to medium-high, and wait for the sprouts to brown a little, then add the sugar. Toss and cook until the sprouts are browned.

In another large skillet, melt two tablespoons of goat butter, then add the chopped pumpkin and roasted almonds, and salt. Cover, and cook until tender, tossing every few minutes to full absorb the goat butter.

To assemble the salad, put 1-2 cups of raw spinach on a plate, add the beets, brussel sprouts, pumpkin, almonds and dried cranberries, then crumble goat cheese on top. You will not need dressing on this salad. Unless you're crazy.

Twice Baked Pumpkin Penne

Recipe barely changed, thank you How Sweet It is
Serves 10, unless you're pregnant. In that case, serves 2.

2 lbs chopped pumpkin, cut into 1-2 inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Olive oil, to toss
1 medium eggplant, cut up into 1 inch pieces
3 cups spinach
1 pound penne pasta
2 tablespoons butter
2 shallots
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup creme fraiche (or mascarpone cheese as the original recipe calls for)
1 to 1 and 1/3 cup milk (start with the smallest amount, add more as needed)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
fresh sage leaves
8 oz thick sliced bacon, baked 

Toss the eggplant with a little olive oil and salt, and roast it at 350 degrees for 15 minutes each side on a baking sheet. Steam the spinach, and set them aside.

Pre-heat the oven at 400 degrees, and toss the cubed pumpkin with olive oil, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Lay it on a baking sheet and cook it for 20 minutes, then toss it around, and roast it for another 20 minutes.

Cook the penne according to the package directions. Drain it well, and set aside. When the pumpkin is tender, put it in a bowl and mash it well. In a saucepan, melt the butter and add the shallots over medium heat. Whisking constantly, continue to cook it until it begins to brown or you see brown bits in the pan. Add the flour, and continue whisking for a minute or so. Add the mashed pumpkin, creme fraiche, and milk and stir it until fully combined.

Pour pasta into a 13 x 9 glass baking dish, and add the roasted eggplant, steamed spinach, and top it with the pumpkin creme sauce. Carefully fold the mixture together until it's mixed throughout. Top the pasta with both the mozzarella and parmesan cheeses, and then the sage leaves. Bake it at 400 degrees for approximately 30 minutes, and then top it with the bacon.

Dig. In. OMG.

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