Orange Is the Color of…


Autumn! Duh. If you haven’t noticed yet, I’m sort of in love with autumn: the crisp air, the leaves, the PUMPKIN! Surprise. Needless to say, I’m presenting you with yet another pumpkin recipe today: Crusted Roasted Pumpkin. You’ll also get the added bonus of an amazing butternut squash risotto recipe. It’s been a little modified from it’s original form, so you’ll get my slightly-drunk risotto. The risotto was drunk, not I.


I should explain a little something about the pumpkin recipe. Unlike most of the things that appear on this site, it wasn’t concocted with nearly-spoiled ingredients. Y’know, all those things you have that you need to finish off so you don’t feel guilty about wasting them? Yeah, that’s the usual. But this? This is something completely different.


A long time ago (anything more than one year counts as a long time ago, right?), I found out about a cook book called Plenty. The photos were amazing. The cover of the book itself is soft, almost velvety. The paper is wonderful. Have you noticed that I’m a book and paper person yet? Anyway. Two weeks ago was my friend’s birthday. We work together. Another friend brought her birthday presents to work, and brought me a little something, too. Neatly wrapped in lovely plain brown paper, something slightly soft and rectangular… A book. Oh, I know what a book feels like… Holy cow. HOLY MOLY. OH MY GOSH! Plenty. It is from this book that I yanked the pumpkin recipe below, and you’ll get plenty more where that came from (Hah, see what I did there?).


The butternut squash risotto, however, is another story.  A more typical story. The type of story where inspiration came from a handful of mismatched recipes, and yet another moment of intense procrastination. Thesis? Editing? I’m gonna make me some food! 


And so I found myself picking through chunks of half-spent squash, shuffling through my pantry for some barley I could swear I didn’t have… but thank goodness, did! Someday I really have to label those glass jars full of grains. About an hour later, a lovely steaming pot of vegetables and grains and cheese stared up at me from the stovetop. Of course, by the time I finished making it, I wasn’t hungry anymore, so it went into tupperware and perches in the fridge for lunches later this week and a couple of hungry friends!


Crusted Roasted Pumpkin

1 small sugar pumpkin

2 tbsp olive oil

3/4 c shredded parmesan cheese

1/4 c panko bread crumbs

1 large lemon’s worth of grated zest (My lemon was weird, so I cut long strips of the rind. Just means I had to pick them off later, but the flavor still worked its way out!)

2 minced or pressed garlic cloves

2 tbsp fresh thyme

1/4 c parsley

Salt and pepper (white, if you have it) to taste

Ingredients for Dip:

1/2 c sour cream

1 tbsp fresh dill (or a little more if you use the dried stuff)

Preheat the oven to 400.

Slice open and de-seed the pumpkin. Set the seeds and guts aside for roasting later. Cut the halves into 1 to 1 1/2 inch slices and lay them out on a baking sheet.

Brush the pumpkin with the olive oil.

Mix together the remaining ingredients and sprinkle on top of the pumpkin slices. Press down lightly with your fingers so they stick to the pumpkin!  Pop those babies into the oven for 30-45 minutes. I cut my slices thinly, so it only took 20 minutes or so for mine to finish. 

While the pumpkin is in the oven, mix the sour cream and dill if you’re making the dip. It definitely complements the lemon and parmesan.


Butternut Squash and Barley Risotto

1 lb butternut squash, cut into chunks

1 c pearled barley

1 medium onion

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 c dry white wine

2 c chicken or vegetable stock

All the spinach you can handle

1/2 c Romano cheese

1/4 c chopped fresh parsley

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat to 400.

Chop the onion and toss it, with the olive oil, into a pan. Add the squash and cook until the onions start to become clear. Keep stirring. Let it cook for 5 or 6 minutes.

Add the salt and pepper. I think the less the better — you can always add more later.

Add the white wine and cook, stirring, for one minute or so.

Add the stock and bring it all to a boil. When it boils, either cover the container and stick it in the oven or, if the container isn’t oven-safe, dump it all into a casserole dish and cover it up. Stick it in the oven for 30-45 minutes, or until the barley is cooked through.

Remove the dish from the oven and mix in the cheese, parsley, and spinach. The spinach will wilt, the cheese will melt, and you’ll stuff your face. Enjoy!

PS- If you want to roast those pumpkin seeds, fill a bowl with water and throw them in. The guts of the pumpkin will easily pull away from the seeds, which will float. Scoop them out with your hands and dump them on a paper towel to dry. Then toss ’em with some olive oil and seasoning, and spread them out on a baking pan. Bake ’em at 200 for 20-40 minutes (depending on how long it takes for them to get nice and crispy). Possible seasoning combinations might include:

1. honey, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger.

2. cayenne pepper with a dash of lime (lime after they come out!)

3. the traditional route: salt.