Friday, December 21, 2007

Improvised pumpkin chili

This year, I've slacked off a bit when it comes to cooking meals for myself. I just haven't felt like it most of the time. Recently, I've gotten the bug again, and I'm trying a few new things. Some good, some....not-so-good. Last night was one of the good ones. I had a sugar (pie) pumpkin hanging around in my pantry for like a month, and it would have been a shame to waste it, so I chopped it up and made an improvised pumpkin chili. This is a versatile recipe and can be taken in a hundred different directions, so revise to your taste. Enjoy!

Pumpkin chili
One 3-lb sugar pumpkin (also known as a pie pumpkin - not one of the honkin' ones you carve for Halloween, but one of the cute ones about the size of a melon)
A couple glugs olive oil (1-2 Tbsp)
One medium yellow onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp ground cumin, or to taste
1 Tbsp chipotle or regular chili powder, or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
A couple dashes ground cayenne pepper (optional)
One 15-oz can chickpeas, drained, rinsed
One 28-oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes w/juice
4-6 cups veggie broth or water
1 Tbsp cornstarch or corn flour, dissolved in cold water

The process
1. Cut off pumpkin stem & discard, then cut pumpkin in half vertically, through stem end. Use a strong spoon (a grapefruit spoon works well, or even a small paring knife in a pinch) to scoop out the seeds & stringy guts, reserving seeds if you want to bake them later.
2. Peel hard outer flesh from pumpkin using a vegetable peeler or small, sharp knife (careful!). Cut the pumpkin into chunks.
3. Steam or boil pumpkin chunks until tender but still slightly firm, about 10 minutes. Reserve.
4. Heat olive oil over medium heat, then add chopped onions, stirring to coat. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add minced garlic and spices, stirring to combine everything. Cook for 1-2 more minutes, stirring a few times.
5. Add chickpeas, tomatoes, reserved pumpkin, and broth/water. Bring chili up to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and add cornstarch/water mixture slowly, stirring to incorporate.
6. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste, and add more spices as necessary.
7. Devour! If you want, you can scatter a few toasted, spiced pumpkin seeds on top for crunch, or add a dollop of sour cream/yogurt to counterbalance the spice.

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