Fall has arrived, and with the cooler temperatures and shorter days, my favorite symbol of the season has made its return to adorn porch steps across the country. Whether you use them for carving or cooking, pumpkins never disappoint—they are delicious in pies, pancakes, soups and chili—even lasagna! Here, I have prepared a roasted pumpkin soup with crispy sage leaves. My kitchen smells divine!
When cooking with pumpkin, you want to be sure and choose a variety of pumpkin that’s intended for cooking rather than for decoration. The ubiquitous field pumpkin—the kind most commonly used to carve jack-o’-lanterns—has watery, stringy flesh and is not pleasant for consuming. Sugar pumpkins and cheese pumpkins are best for cooking and baking, thanks to their dense, sweet flesh.
Pumpkins keep well at room temperature for up to a month. Stored in a refrigerator, they can last up to three months. Once cut, pumpkin pieces should be wrapped tightly, refrigerated and used within five days.
This recipe’s also delicious with butternut or other squash. The soup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days, it also freezes well.
4 Tb butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp curry powder (not a fan of curry, use ginger instead)
6 cups of roasted pumpkin* (can substitute three 15 oz cans 100% pumpkin)
5 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups of coconut milk
1/4-1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
*To make pumpkin purée, cut a sugar pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff, lie face down on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350°F until soft, about 50-60 minutes. Cool, scoop out the flesh. If your pumpkin produces more than 6 cups of pulp, you can freeze whatever you don’t need for future use. Reserve the seeds for toasting.
Melt butter in a 4-quart dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add spices and stir for a minute more.
Add pumpkin and 5 cups of chicken broth, stirring well to blend. Bring to a boil and reduce heat, simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
Transfer soup in batches to a blender or food processor. Cover tightly and blend until smooth. Return soup to saucepan. I like to leave some of the chunks for texture, so I only blend a little over half of the soup and smash the rest with a handheld potato masher.
With the soup on low heat, add half the coconut sugar and mix, tasting for sweetness to determine if you need to add the rest or not. Slowly add coconut milk while stirring to incorporate. I love coconut with curry, but if you’re not a big fan of coconut, use any preferred milk. Add heavy cream. Adjust seasonings as needed. Salt to taste.
Serve in individual bowls. Sprinkle the top of each with toasted pumpkin seeds and/or crispy sage leaves (recipes follow).
Note: I actually served the soup two ways. First serving was soup in a bowl topped with toasted pumpkin seeds and crispy sage leaves. Later, since there was leftovers, I spooned warm soup over cooked buckwheat and jumbo shrimp, with a little extra curry added to the mix. Delicious!
Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Place the mass of pumpkin seeds in a colander and run under water to rinse and separate the seeds from the stringy stuff.
Place the seeds in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Stir in 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring the salted water and pumpkin seeds to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Coat the bottom of a roasting pan with about a tablespoon of coconut oil. I used the same baking sheet that I had just finished roasting the pumpkin on, so the coconut oil melted upon contact. Spread the seeds out over the roasting pan in a single layer. Bake on the top rack until the seeds begin to brown, 5-20 minutes, depending on the size of the seeds. Keep an eye on the pumpkin seeds so they don’t burn.
When nicely browned, remove the pan from the oven and transfer seeds to a paper towel-covered plate to cool. While still warm, lightly salt to taste if desired.
Crispy Sage Leaves
The leaves crisp up after they have been removed from the hot oil and begin to cool down. They can be made a couple of days ahead of time and stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
2 Tb coconut oil
Fresh sage leaves
Fine grain sea salt
Wash your sage leaves and then ensure that they are very thoroughly dried. I spun mine in a lettuce spinner for a few moments. Set aside.
Line a plate with several layers of paper towel and set aside.
Place a small skillet over medium heat and allow to heat up for a minute or so. Add the coconut oil and then carefully add one of the fresh sage leaves. Check to see that your oil is hot enough so that the sage leaf fries in about 5 seconds per side. You may need to use the back of a fork to keep the leaf flat and submerged in the oil. After 5 seconds flip the sage leaf over and fry for an additional 5 seconds. The leaves should emerge a bright green with no hints of browning. Remove from the oil using tongs and place on the sheets of paper towel.
Once you have the proper temperature add 4 or 5 sage leaves at a time and cook the leaves in batches. If the leaves are turning brown or cooking too quickly turn the heat down to medium low. Once they are cooling on the sheets of paper towel, season with salt.
Ack! I’m on a nectarine kick, and can’t stop eating them. I’ve have been enjoying them sliced, in my smoothies, and roasted with beets and walnuts for a delicious warm salad tossed with a little blue cheese and toasted walnuts.
Did you know that nectarines are actually cultivars of peaches? They are of the same species, but due to a recessive gene, they don’t develop the characteristic fuzz of a peach but a smooth skin, more like a plum – which is great, because I’m not fond of fuzzy skin! The mutation also leads to a firmer, spicier tasting flesh. Like peaches, nectarines can be either freestone or cling stone, depending on how embedded the pit is within the flesh.
For this recipe, I paired the beets and nectarines in a crisp. The dates in the topping add the perfect amount of sweet – delicious!
3 nectarines, peeled and cubed
2 beets, peeled and cubed
1 tsp lemon zest
2 Tb lemon juice
2/3 cup almond meal
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt
2 Tb solidified coconut oil
Preheat oven to 350F.
Steam the beets in a covered microwave-safe dish for 3 minutes in a few tablespoons of water. Drain and set aside.
Place the nectarines in a bowl and combine with the lemon zest and juice. Set aside.
In a food processor, with the metal blade, combine the almond meal, dates, cinnamon and salt. Pulse until everything is chopped and mixed. Add the coconut oil and pulse to combine.
Transfer the beets and nectarines into an 8-inch baking dish, combining gently so as not to turn your nectarines pink. Cover with the almond meal mixture.
Cover loosely with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 10 more minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Serve with whipped coconut cream, if desired.
For more than 17 years the world has descended on the Sequim-Dungeness Valley to experience the joys of lavender and this past weekend was no exception. During a visit to Purple Haze Farm, I purchased some culinary lavender and today I made lavender syrup using coconut water. Known for its calming properties, lavender syrup’s quixotic aroma provides a subtle accent for refreshing lemonades, teas, martinis and more.
Did you know that lavender has been a favorite herb for over 2,500 years? The Greeks and the Romans bathed in lavender scented water and it was from the Latin word “lavo” meaning “to wash” that the herb took it’s name. Perhaps first domesticated by the Arabians, lavender spread across Europe from Greece. To this day, the French continue to send baby lamb to graze in fields of lavender, so their meat will be tender and fragrant.
3 cups coconut water
4 tablespoons culinary lavender
1 cup sugar
In a medium saucepan, bring the coconut water to a boil.
Add the lavender and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain out the lavender and return the infusion to the pan.
Add the sugar, stirring often until thickened.
Remove from heat and transfer the syrup to a sterile glass container.
Keep refrigerated to avoid spoilage.
Fill a martini glass 2/3 full with lavender syrup. Add the juice of one lime, a shot of vodka and a dash of Scrappy’s Lavender bitters. Stir and enjoy.
I needed to make a dish to share at a potluck and decided on coconut macaroons. These were so good, the entire plate of cookies was devoured. I made more the next day and brought them over to a friend’s. Same thing happened. Devoured.
For the moisture, I used duck eggs as they contain more protein than a chicken egg and they are a wonderful alternative to anyone with allergies to chicken eggs.
This recipe makes about 24 macaroons.
1-1/2 cups walnuts, chopped
1-1/2 cups shredded, unsweetened coconut
17 dates, pitted and chopped
2 free-range duck eggs (or 3 chicken eggs)
2 tablespoons raw, local honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
If your walnuts are whole, start by chopping them. Then add the coconut and walnuts to a skillet and brown over medium-low heat. Stir often to avoid scorching.
Meanwhile, pit and chop the dates and set aside.
Combine the eggs, honey and vanilla in a mixing bowl and whisk until well blended.
Once the walnuts and coconut are nicely browned, add them to the egg mixture, and add the dates. Stir until everything is mixed well.
Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, drop balls of the macaroon batter – evenly spaced – onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake for 15 minutes. Let the cookies cool slightly before removing from the baking sheet.
Add a couple tablespoons of grated organic dark chocolate to the batter.
Pea shoots, a well-kept secret for far too long, are taking the food world by storm, revitalizing not only salads, but stir fries, pastas and risottos. Whereas traditional garden peas take a whole summer to grow; pea shoots are harvested after just 2-4 weeks, when the leaves are tender, young and literally bursting with a distinctive pea flavor. I’ll be sprouting these all summer long and probably indoors throughout next winter too!
I love the fresh crispness pea shoots bring to salads. Not just tasty, they’re packed with high levels of vitamin C and A. This recipe is meant to be a flexible guideline; quantities will depend on how many people you are serving and how many pea shoots you have on hand. And of course, you can use chicken instead of the smoked salmon, and mix and match any combination of fruits, vegetables and nuts that you want.
2 slices smoked salmon, cut into small pieces
1 mangoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
4 Persian cucumbers, peeled and sliced
3 Campari tomatoes, cut into small pieces
5 spring onions, peeled and minced
2-3 cups pea shoots, coarsely chopped
1 lemon, juiced
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
Combine salad ingredients and then drizzle with the lemon juice and olive oil just before serving. Delicious with warm, crusty bread.
Since someone was brave (or crazy) enough to figure out that stinging nettles – a pesky and painful weed-like plant – are edible, they deserve a moment to shine on the culinary stage. Although nettles sound like adventurous eating, all it takes to remove the stinging venom is boiling them in water for a few minutes before proceeding with a recipe.
Their flavor is often compared to spinach, but nettles have a mellow herbaceousness that particularly makes for a tasty pesto. Super nutritious, nettles boast the highest levels of protein and plant-digestible iron of any other green and are high in vitamins A, C, and D as well as calcium, potassium, and manganese and have been used for centuries in various medicinal ways.
Today, I’m making a nettle-galangal pesto. You might be thinking, isn’t pesto made with basil, but really, pesto can be made from anything — it doesn’t even have to be a green thing. I’ve enjoyed pesto made with mint, parsley, cilantro, pea shoots and other herbs, even tomatoes. So why not make it with nettles! The Italians actually make a nettle pesto in springtime called pesto d’urtica.
1 cup blanched nettles (6 cups fresh)
2-3 garlic cloves
1-2 slicea fresh galangal
1/2 cup hemp hearts or walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup grated hard cheese
1/2 – 3/4 cup good-quality olive oil
Salt to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add some salt. Using tongs or gloves, transfer the nettles into the boiling water. (Although it has been said that nettles lose their sting pretty quickly after being picked, I choose not to test that theory as I remember far too many painful nettles stings as a kid playing in the woods). Stir around and boil for 1-2 minutes and then transfer the nettles to a colander to drain. Once cooled, press out excess moisture and transfer to a food processor.
Toast the hemp hearts (or walnuts) over medium-low heat, turning as needed to prevent scorching. Once toasted, transfer to the food processor. Add the garlic, galangal and cheese and process everything until smooth. With the machine running, pour in 1/2 cup of olive oil. If it seems to thick, add a tablespoon of olive oil at a time but no more than another 1/4 cup total. Transfer the pesto to a bowl and season with salt to taste. Optional, squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over the pesto, stirring to incorporate.
Serve the pesto as a spread on bread or crackers, as an additive to a hearty soup, as a pasta or pizza sauce or as a dollop on fish or poultry. Store any unused pesto in the fridge, topped with olive oil to keep the air out.
Once the pesto was made, I was still feeling a little adventurous, so I cut the tops off of a few tomatoes, scooped out their centers and stuffed them with nettle pesto. I baked them at 350 degrees for 25 minutes in a muffin pan so the tomatoes would stay fairly upright. Pretty tasty.
This versatile dip consists of roasted eggplant, jicama and onion. It’s really tasty!
Serve it with raw vegetables and warmed pita bread or rye crackers, use it as the base for pizza in lieu of tomato sauce or as a spread on sandwiches, tossed with quinoa or whatever else your imagination dreams up. Enjoy!
I eggplant, washed
1/2 large white onion, peeled
1/2 large jicama, peeled
Himalayan sea salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut the eggplant, jicama and onion into 1-inch cubes. Toss them in a large bowl with the garlic, olive oil, salt and granulated kelp until coated. Spread them on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes, until the vegetables are lightly browned and tender, tossing once during cooking.
Remove from the oven and cool slightly.
Place the vegetables into a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add 8 oven-roasted tomato pieces, red pepper flakes and a tablespoon or two of lemon juice. Because I had just made some, I also added 1 teaspoon of blood orange zest. Pulse until smooth.
Note: If you are using a blender, you may need to add water incrementally by the tablespoon to get a nice consistency. If it’s too thick, your blender blades will seize up, but take care not to add too much or your dip will be runny.
Taste for salt and add more as needed.
I love blood oranges.
That’s a pretty big deal for me, since I’ve had a lifelong aversion to oranges ever since “The Incident” suffered at age seven. Even sitting here recalling the event gives me the willies all over again.
My mom had left my brothers and me with the next door neighbor for the day. At lunchtime, she gave each of us kids a whole orange. I didn’t know what to do with it because my mom had always either peeled our oranges or quartered them so that we could eat the flesh right off the peel. I had no idea how to peel an orange. Everyone else managed to peel and eat theirs, quickly leaving the table to go outside and play . I wasn’t allowed to leave the table until I ate my orange. I have no idea how long I sat at that table, but I’m pretty sure it was several hours. I finally got the peel started and picked it off as best I could with my tiny seven year old fingers. Unfortunately, every single bit of pith remained on that orange, so even though it was peeled, it remained encased in a thick layer of inedible grossness. Eating that orange with all that pith made me want to gag. It still does. To this day, I don’t like the taste or smell of an orange. I don’t eat them and I don’t drink orange juice either.
And then something wonderful happened. Last year, my stepmother gave me a jar of her homemade blood orange conserve. It was delicious and such a beautiful, rich maroon color. The blood orange, a variety of orange (Citrus sinensis) has a crimson flesh due to the presence of anthocyanins, a family of antioxidant pigments common to many flowers and fruit, but uncommon in citrus fruits. I was intrigued. And hopeful. As a test last fall, I bought a couple of blood oranges and chopped them up into a simple salad with shrimp and avocados. I found them to be delightful and not orange-pithy tasting.
Today I bought several dozen blood oranges, which I will use in several ways. First, I used my micro planer to make zest, which I will dry and store for use in various recipes. I then juiced four of the oranges and, combined with black cherry juice, made a fruit pudding.
Next, I juiced the remaining blood oranges. Some of the juice will be used in a savory reduction for tonight’s dinner (paprika-roasted cauliflower purée and flank steak). The rest will get frozen in ice cube trays and stored in the freezer for later use in my sparkling water, salad dressings and sauces.
I know, it’s not like I peeled and ate an orange today. But hey, working with the juice of a blood orange, it’s a start!
I visited my favorite farm store today, Nash’s Organic Produce and was pretty excited to find beautiful, fresh chickweed and pea shoots. Chickweed is very nutritious, high in vitamins and minerals, and can be added to salads or cooked dishes, tasting somewhat like spinach. And pea shoots are just plain tasty! I decided to use half of the greens in a frittata and the rest will go into a salad tomorrow.
4 slices uncured bacon, chopped
1/4 white onion or 1 shallot, diced
10 grape tomatoes, halved
large handful of spinach leaves
handful of pea shoots
handful of chickweed
1/3 cup almond milk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Sauté bacon pieces in a large oven-proof skillet over medium heat. When browned and almost crisp, transfer to a paper towel and set aside.
While bacon is cooking, place eggs, milk and garlic in a bowl and whisk until thoroughly mixed. Set aside.
Sauté onions in any bacon drippings remaining in skillet. Add a teaspoon of coconut oil if necessary. When onions are translucent, add tomato halves and spinach to the skillet and stir. Once the spinach is wilted, add the bacon, pea shoots and chickweed, stirring quickly to evenly distribute around the skillet.
Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables, tilting the pan to evenly distribute. Place pan in oven and bake for 12-14 minutes or until egg mixture have set. Remove from oven, cut into six slices and serve immediately.
I wanted to make a dairy-less pudding and this fruity, refreshing delight is the perfect light dessert to follow brunch or dinner. Super simple to make, I used Kuzu Root Starch as the thickener. For this pudding, I paired apricot nectar with kumquats, but you can use any organic juice and fruit combination that appeals to you. Next time, I’m going to pair bilberry nectar with blood oranges.
24 ounces bionaturæ® organic apricot nectar
3 tablespoons Eden Organic Kuzu Root Starch
10 kumquats, sliced and de-seeded
Dusting of Fennel Pollen
Dusting of Divine Desserts
Shaved organic dark chocolate
Toasted, chopped pistachios
Place the nectar, kuzu and kumquats in a saucepan, bring to a boil, and stir constantly until thick. Serve with any of the suggested toppings or whatever sounds good to you.