Saturday, October 29, 2011

Balsamic roasted pumpkin and friends

The fall cooking bug has bitten me. Not just a quick little nibble. No, it’s latched on with iron jaws and will not. Let. Go. Not that I’m really trying to get rid of it, mind you! I spent significant portions of last weekend browsing pumpkin and squash recipes, preparation tips, recipes, articles, and recipes . . . and just drooling and wishing I could make every single one of those recipes.

Side note: Did you know that WebMD has a whole section oncooking? I didn’t! But they do, and it’s great! They have all sorts of articles on things like how to cook healthfully for one or two, how to incorporate convenience foods in a healthy way, how to make healthy changes to recipes you already use, etc. If you’re interested in eating healthy foods, I would highly recommend it.

Anyway . . . needless to say, there are a whole lot of new recipes on my “must try” list, and it will take me awhile to work through them all! Tonight I made Balsamic Roasted Pumpkin and Friends. Even before my weekend of pumpkin recipe searches, I had wanted to roast some fall/winter vegetables. I had already picked up a sugar pumpkin, acorn squash, and sweet potato, and then I came across this recipe. So I used her sauce on my veggies, and the result was phenomenal! The smell alone was enough to drive me a little crazy because it smelled so good! And that first bite was unbelievable! I think heaven is going to taste pretty awesome, and I think that roasted winter squash is going to be among its flavors. Holy cow. Okay, here’s the recipe!

Balsamic Roasted Pumpkin and Friends

1 sugar pumpkin (the small kind)
1 acorn squash
1 sweet potato, unpeeled and washed
1 yellow onion, cut into wedges
8-12 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Juice of 1 orange

I eyeballed the sauce ingredients. Probably used about 2-3 Tbsp. each of the oil and vinegar, and just kinda sprinkled in the salt and paprika. I also learned from WebMD that pumpkin and sweet potato are denser than acorn squash and, therefore, generally take longer to roast. So I cut my acorn squash into larger chunks than the pumpkin and sweet potato, so they’d all cook pretty evenly.

Peel the pumpkin and acorn squash, if desired. I recently learned that acorn squash skin is edible—and actually has lots of nutrients—so I didn’t bother peeling mine since acorn squash can be tricky to peel. Cut squash and pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds and stringy fibers. Cube the pumpkin, squash, and sweet potato. Cut up the onion and garlic and dump into a bowl with the other veggies, preferably one with a lid. I did all the above steps the night before and refrigerated overnight.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a couple 9” x 13” pans with foil and spray with cooking spray.

Whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, paprika, salt, and orange juice. Pour over veggies and toss to coat (or put on the lid and shake). Add more salt, paprika, or olive oil if you feel the veggies need it. The goal is to have enough sauce and spices to add a nice flavor to the veggies and keep them moist while roasting, without overwhelming them or making the dish high in fat or sodium. Pour into prepared pans and bake until the veggies are tender, about 20 minutes, stirring once halfway through.

Yield: 4-6 generous servings.

Verdict and variations: This would be awesome with some pecans sprinkled on near the end of the baking time, though it tastes divine as is. And really, you could use just about any combination of winter squash that roast well. In this dish, my slight favorite was probably the acorn squash.

I ate it with these Easy Turkey and Parmesan Meatballs from Real Simple and some embellished store-bought marinara sauce (I think I added my own garlic, onion, mushrooms, and dried Italian herbs), both of which I made over the weekend. The only things I changed in the meatball recipe were to use half-and-half instead of whole milk, and to use crushed rosemary and olive oil Triscuits instead of breadcrumbs. Oh, and I used a smaller scooper than Real Simple does. I’ve never been a huge fan of meatballs, but these are really good—and fairly healthy! I’m not positive that the combination on my plate was an excellent one, but the meatballs and marinara were delicious, and the pumpkin and friends were even more so! So I ended up a very happy camper!

All ready to roast!

Ready to eat!


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