Last week finally started to feel a bit like autumn and I was delighted to find pie pumpkins in stock and on sale at 4 for $5 at the store. What a steal! Pie pumpkins are different than those big ones that end up on carved people’s porches because they’re sweeter and less fibrous. I always feel like fresh pumpkin this special treat because I can only get it in season, unlike in parts of the world where it’s a staple food. And rightly so: It’s an excellent source of beta carotene and other nutrients, it’s low-calorie, high-fiber, and it’s even got protein.
Unlike sweet potatoes or butternut squash, pumpkin has far fewer carbohydrates (25 less than sweet potatoes; 8 less than butternut squash) and sugars (11 less and 4 less, respectively) for the same serving sizes. Calorie for calorie, it’s a much better nutritional deal. And it’s sad, because pumpkin is excellent for so much more than just baked goods or pumpkin spice latte (which–though I don’t know firsthand–I’m pretty sure is all about the spices and not about pumpkin flavor).
A few years ago, I got an email from my spice supplier (that sounds dubious, I know) for Pumpkin Kale Enchiladas and Wow! were they good! It was the first time I’d ever made a savory version of pumpkin, which seemed odd, since I’d been making all sorts of other winter squash. With my shift to a low-carbohydrate regimen, I don’t eat tortillas much anymore, but the filling is still really good topped and baked with enchilada sauce and cheese.
So I scored with my first fresh pumpkin of the season, but what to do with it? I thought about trying something very different and making a dessert baked with cranberry sauce in the center and topped with spiced walnuts. Instead, I decided to go savory and stuff it, especially because I have fresh sage in the garden, just begging to be used. I’m glad I did because it was super tasty. I served it with gravy and roasted Brussels sprouts. For a His & Her version (i.e., omnivore and vegan), substitute sausage for the seitan.
If you’re unfamiliar with seitan (pronounced say-tan), it’s an excellent source of plant-based protein. It’s very versatile and, though I’ve haven’t made it yet (probably because it’s readily available), it looks easy to make. Even my texture-issue spouse likes it, along with lots of other people I’ve fed it to who happily ate it.
Seitan & Cranberry Stuffed Roasted
Cut pumpkin in half, remove the seeds, coat inside with oil, and bake cut-side down at 420 degrees for ~20 minutes (or until easily pierced with sharp knife, as time will vary by size). Wait to cool a bit before turning them over to plate them or the pumpkin might slide out of its skin.
Heat 1 T. safflower oil in skillet over medium-high heat.
Add, sauté for 5 minutes:
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- ¼ c. raw walnuts, roughly chopped
Add, sauté until browned:
- 4 oz. white or cremini mushrooms, chopped
- 4 oz. seitan, drained and roughly chopped
- 2 T. finely minced garlic
- 1 T. soy sauce
Add, sauté until cranberries are tender:
- 1/3 c. cranberries, fresh or frozen
- 2 T. fresh sage leaves, chiffonade (or 1 T. dried rubbed sage)
- Fresh ground pepper to taste.
Fill each pumpkin half with ½ of the seitan/cranberry stuffing. Serve with gravy. A low-carbohydrate, vegan version is really simple by following a regular gravy recipe, substituting vegetable broth, chickpea flour, and oil.
Prep time: 30-40 minutes
Accommodates: Omnivores, Vegetarians, Vegans, low-carbohydrate, keto, and paleo regimens