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Slice of Life

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Let pumpkin shine in soup, salad

Psssst, can you keep a secret? According to my family, I make the best pumpkin pie ever.

Truth is, I really don’t like pumpkin pie and even though I make it, I don’t eat it. Don’t get me wrong. Pumpkin as an ingredient is OK, but in a pie, nah, I’ll pass.

Yes, I know that Pilgrims, Thanksgiving and sharing the harvest bounty thing is high on everyone’s agenda right now, but it seems I’m in the minority in my opinion about including “pumpkin,” especially this time of year.

I’m going out on a limb here and suggesting that you use the pumpkin for recipes other than a pie and really taste the subtle, sweet flavor of the squash.

You can use fresh or canned pumpkin in the following recipes for any time of the year. If the recipe calls for pumpkin and they’re not in season, substitute butternut squash.

Pumpkin, Bean and Lentil Soup

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, diced

5 stalks celery, diced

4 carrots, peeled and diced

2 pounds pumpkins, peeled and cut into cubes

2 cans of white beans, do not drain

8 cups broth (vegetable or chicken)

2 cups water

1 1/2 cups lentils

4 to 5 fresh thyme sprigs

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large stock pot, sauté the onions, carrots and celery in the olive oil. Cook for 5 minutes.

Add the pumpkin. Cook for 3 minutes and then add the broth and the beans and their liquid. Cover and reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.

Add the water, lentils and thyme. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 8.

Black Bean and Pumpkin Salad

2 to 3 cups pumpkin, cut into 1/2 -inch cubes

3 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Salt and pepper

Salad:

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed

1 thinly sliced red onion

1/2 cup chopped green pepper

1/2 cup cucumber, chopped, seeded and peeled

2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped

2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

Toasted pumpkin seeds or pine nuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the pumpkin cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet with sides. Drizzle over the top the water and oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake about 12 to 13 minutes then add the garlic.

Mix to combine and then bake 3 to 4 more minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.

For salad: In a small bowl combine the olive oil and lime juice. Whisk to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste and whisk to combine.

In a large salad bowl combine the black beans, red onion, green pepper, cucumber, tomato and basil. Mix to combine.

Add the pumpkin and drizzle the dressing over the top and toss to coat. Sprinkle the top with the toasted pumpkin seeds or pine nuts and serve. Serves 6 to 8.

Slice of Life is a food column that offers recipes, cooking advice and information on new food products. It appears Sundays. If you have a question about cooking or a food item, contact Eileen Goltz at ztlog@verizon.net or write The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802.

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