It’s autumn. Farmers markets and grocery stores are overflowing with winter squash in a wide range of colors, patterns, shapes, sizes, and flavors. While a popular option for a seasonal porch and table displays, fall squash are not just for show. Versatile and flavorful, the fruit is a nutritional powerhouse, rich in vitamins A and C, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber.
Butternut and kabocha squash and sugar pie pumpkins are a few of my favorite varieties. All are good choices for both sweet baking and savory cooking. With a similar texture and flavor to butternut squash, the sugar pie pumpkin will only get sweeter once it’s cooked and starts to caramelize.
While most people associate pumpkin with pie, my favorite way to prepare winter squash is in a soup, Indian masala, or simply roasted with sage and pine nuts.
Filled with spices, Pumpkin Chana Masala with Rice Pilaf is a hearty and flavorful two-pan meal that you’ll find yourself making all season. Spice levels can be adjusted to suit your palate. The recipe is actually vegetarian, but the pumpkin and chickpeas give it a heft that even die-hard carnivores will enjoy.
And it doesn’t get any easier than Roasted Pumpkin Squash with Pine Nuts and Sage — a perfect side for your holiday feast. Madeira, a fortified wine often served with desserts, pairs beautifully with butternut squash and sugar pie pumpkin.
Pumpkin Chana Masala with Rice Pilaf
(Makes 6 servings)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely grated ginger
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 small sugar pie pumpkin or butternut squash (1 1/2 pounds),peeled, seeded, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 can (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock or water
2 cans (14.05 ounce) reduced-sodium chickpeas, rinsed, drained
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
2/3 cup jasmine rice
1 1/3 cups low-sodium vegetable stock or water, extra
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted (optional)
Heat half of oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until onion begins to caramelize. Add garlic, ginger, curry powder, cayenne pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until aromatic.
Add pumpkin, tomato, stock or water, and chickpeas to onion mixture. Bring to simmer. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until pumpkin is tender. Season to taste.
Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add cumin seeds and turmeric. Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds or until aromatic. Add rice and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until rice is coated with spice mixture and lightly toasted. Add extra stock or water and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Set rice aside, covered, for 5 minutes to steam. Use fork to separate grains. Transfer to serving bowl. Sprinkle with almonds, if desired.
Total Fat: 13 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Sodium: 803 mg
Carbohydrate: 56 g
Fiber: 10 g
Protein: 11 g
Diabetic Exchanges: 3 starch, 0.5 lean meat; 1 vegetable, 2 fat
Roasted Pumpkin Squash with Pine Nuts and Sage
(Makes 8 servings)
1/2 cup Madeira
2 medium sugar pie pumpkins or butternut squash, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
¼ cup grated Parmesan
Place Madeira in small saucepot over high heat. Reduce to about half.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut squash lengthwise into 1-inch-wide wedges. In large bowl, toss squash with -Madeira, oil, and salt and pepper. Arrange squash in single layers over two baking sheets, sprinkle with sage leaves, and bake for 20 minutes. Using metal spatula, turn squash over and continue baking until squash is tender and golden brown, about 20 minutes longer.
Transfer squash to platter, garnish with pine nuts and Parmesan and serve.
Total Fat: 9 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Sodium: 51 mg
Carbohydrate: 15 g
Fiber: 2 g; Protein: 2 g
Diabetic Exchanges: 1 starch, 1.5 fat
BONUS RECIPE: Pumpkin-Ginger Soup
(Makes 6 servings)
1 large shallot, peeled, cut in half
1 red jalapeño, cut in half
1 4-inch piece fresh ginger (1 ounce), peeled, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 limes, zest and juice separated
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, leaves and stems separated
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 medium carrots, peeled, sliced
2 pounds kabocha pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1-inch pieces
5 cups low-sodium chicken stock or water
1 can (13.5 ounces) light coconut milk
In food processor, blend shallot, jalapeño, ginger, garlic, lime zest, and cilantro stems to form paste-like mixture.
Heat medium-heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add oil and paste and cook for 2 minutes or until mixture is fragrant. Add carrots, pumpkin, stock, and all but 6 tablespoons of coconut milk. Cover and bring to simmer. Cook for 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Using blender, and working in batches, puree soup with 2 tablespoons of lime juice until smooth and creamy. Season with salt. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with remaining coconut milk and cilantro leaves.
Total Fat: 6 g
Saturated Fat: 2 grams
Sodium: 324 mg
Carbohydrate: 32 g
Fiber: 6 g
Protein: 8 g
Diabetic Exchanges: 1 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 fat
This article is featured in the November/December 2023 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.
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