Roasted Pumpkin + Portobello Chili

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When my husband and I started dating, I almost called the whole thing off after a mortifying dinner party gaffe. Friends had served a pumpkin pie made from scratch, and my husband remarked that he had never heard of someone using fresh pumpkin in a dish (I suppose he thought they were grown in cans). In fact, he proceeded to ask our hosts about the differences between “eating pumpkins” and – I kid you not – “regular pumpkins.” This is after he had enjoyed several homemade, pumpkin-based meals in my kitchen, and in my mom’s. My mom’s homemade pumpkin dishes aren’t just homemade, they’re homegrown. And homegrown from a complicated seed rating system honed over the years of growing every type of pumpkin under the sun.

Oh, and here’s the view from the kitchen window where the man sat and ate the aforementioned “eating pumpkins”.

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To this day, I have no idea why he didn’t realize the critical function that “eating pumpkins” serve in my life. He’s come a long way, and I have served him hundreds of pumpkins in the years since that fateful dinner.


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I know I post a ton of pumpkin recipes, but here’s another keeper. I realize I have a recipe with a similar title – chili with roasted butternut squash – but this one is different enough to warrant a unique post. This recipe is packed full of vegetables, including portobello mushroom, celery, bell pepper, and, of course, roasted pumpkin. I also have come to the conclusion that what my chili was missing all along was a couple of tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce.

If you’re new to roasted pumpkin, the method I used below is my “standard” squash preparation. I like to make half a pumpkin at once and add it into my quinoa, salads, etc., throughout the week, and I use the method below to do so.

 

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Roasted Pumpkin + Portobello Chili

Serves 4 to 6

For the roasted pumpkin, you will need:

  • 3 cups pumpkin (I suggest kabocha or red kuri)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • Salt and pepper
  • Dash paprika and cayenne

For the chili, you will need:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 portobello mushroom cap
  • 2/3 cup chopped celery
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • One 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes (don’t drain)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • One 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • Roasted pumpkin
  • Serving suggestions: grated pepper jack or sharp cheddar cheese, sour cream, avocado slices, and cilantro.

Roasted pumpkin method:

  • Preheat oven to 375 Fahrenheit.
  • Peel pumpkin if desired (I prefer to leave the skin on). Slice into wedges.
  •  Toss pumpkin with olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne (if using).
  • Arrange in a single layer and bake for 30-45 minutes, until some wedges are golden brown.
  • Remove from heat and cool. Chop into bite-sized pieces once cool before stirring into the chili.

Chili method:

  • In a large dutch oven or skillet, heat oil to medium-high. Add chopped onions, minced garlic, washed and chopped portobello, celery, and bell pepper. Cook for five minutes or so until fragrant.
  • Add ground beef and Worcestershire sauce, breaking up larger pieces of beef with a wooden spoon. Cook until beef has browned, 10-12 minutes.
  • Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, chili powder, and remaining seasonings. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Gently stir in bite-sized pieces of the roasted pumpkin and let simmer for an additional 15 minutes.
  • Serve hot, with garnishes as desired.
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