Monday, October 27, 2014

Pumpkin Mungbean Daal

If you follow food blogs at all, you're sure to have noticed the recent abundance of pumpkin recipes! With Halloween just around the corner I get why, but despite the fact that sugar pumpkins are a traditional harvest food, pumpkin itself is far from a short-season vegetable. In fact, there are many varieties of pumpkin to be had virtually year-round, hiding in plain sight under the admittedly unsexy and very general nom de plume: Winter SQUASH.

I love winter squashes and pumpkins for their sweet taste, velvety smooth texture and meaty bite. These water-rich carbohydrate sources are high in antioxidant carotenoids like beta carotene that help boost immune function and promote eye health. Winter squash and pumpkin are easier to digest than whole grains, and filling without being heavy.

Some of my favorite varieties are the very dark green Buttercup squash (which resembles a bumpy, flat acorn squash), it's orange cousin Kabocha squash, and the beautiful jewel-toned Japanese pumpkin.

The other night I baked a Buttercup and had enough left over to add into the thick, delicious and satisfying protein-rich daal pictured at the top of this post.

If you don't have any roasted pumpkin on hand, it's easy enough to make. Remove the stem and halve your whole, unpeeled pumpkin or squash through the north-south axis. After scooping out the seeds with a spoon, place cut face down in a pyrex baking dish with about a half inch of water added to help keep squash moist while baking. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 450 degrees for 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the size of the pumpkin—just keep checking. When a butter knife slides easily into the side, it's done.

Pumpkin Mungbean Daal

4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup dry mung beans
3 slices ginger root, peeled and chopped
1 heaping teaspoon curry powder
2 thin slices fresh jalapeno or red chili pepper, or cayenne to taste

1 medium carrot, sliced
2 cups peeled and chopped roasted pumpkin or buttercup squash
sea salt to taste
red pepper flakes, fresh chopped cilantro or other green herb (optional)

Simmer vegetable stock, mung beans, ginger, curry, jalapeno and lemon for an hour until beans are very soft. Add carrot and pumpkin and simmer another 20-30 minutes. Add salt to taste.

Serve as a soup, or over a bed of fresh chopped spinach to add a little crunch and freshness. Top with red pepper flakes, sprouts or any freshly chopped herb, such as chives or cilantro, if desired.

Bon appetit!

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