My sister Annie lives in eastern Canada and sent me two books, which arrived in the mail last week. She says they’re in honor of Canadian Thanksgiving. Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi and The Third Plate by Dan Barber. Both look fabulous, but her intention and generosity are the biggest gift. Plus, we’ll have a Plenty-inspired vegetarian meal right away, like these savory bread-crumb crusted pumpkin wedges.
Plenty is a vegetarian cookbook written by a non-vegetarian. Photographs are gorgeous, Ottolenghi’s descriptions are insightful, and the recipes are appealing, alluring even. I invite non-vegetarians, myself included, to roll with it. And, it supports Dan Barber’s point that our new sensibility about local and seasonal, while good, is still unsustainable and that we have more work to do. Vegetarian or vegetarian-leaning more often is a start. It’s sumptuous and satisfying beyond what I could have imagined growing up on a ranch with plenty of meat and potatoes.
Another thing. Mark Bittman says that one of the most powerful practices toward sustainability and health is to ‘cook your own food’. Even if it’s cooking one meal a week instead of zero, think about joining me on that bandwagon. Dinner last night included these crusty roasted pumpkin wedges, savory stuffed roasted red peppers and a Caesar salad made with Whistling Train Farm’s gorgeous autumn romaine. There might have been ice cream for dessert.
Crusted & Roasted Pumpkin Wedges Recipe
These are tasty, not scary. But wait a minute . . . the slices are kind of pointy and boney-finger like. Mwaaaaaa ha ha.
From Plenty. Serves 4, takes about 20 minutes to prep, and then 30 minutes or so to roast. I would think you could use just about any fall squash, in addition to the pie pumpkin.
Ingredients: 1 ½ pounds pie pumpkin, skin on (in my case, half a pumpkin)/ ½ C grated Parmesan/ 4 T dried white breadcrumbs/ 6 T finely chopped parsley/ 2 ½ t finely chopped thyme/ grated zest of *2 lemons/ 2 garlic cloves, crushed and/or finely chopped/ Salt & pepper to taste/ ¼ C olive oil.
Cutting the pumpkin in half, seeding it and then cutting thinnish wedges is the time consuming part of this dish. After that it comes together quickly.
Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees/ Cut the pie pumpkin in half, remove seeds and cut half of it into approximately 3/8 inch slices. Reserve the other half for another purpose, or use it for a double batch/ Mix all other ingredients together in a bowl, *reserving half of the lemon zest for later, add a small amount of salt and pepper/ Brush pumpkin generously with olive oil, then sprinkle with the dry mix/ Gently pat the mix onto each slice – some will slide off, but it gets crispy and dark during the roasting, totally edible/ Roast for 25 – 30 minutes, until pumpkin is tender and crust has turned a golden brown/ If crust turns too brown before pumpkin is done cover lightly with a piece of foil.
Remove from the oven, eat right away or at room temperature. Ottolenghi suggests serving crusty pumpkin slices with ½ C sour cream mixed with *the rest of the lemon zest and 1 T chopped fresh dill. This was a delicious accompaniment.
A few leftovers and I’m imagining crusty pumpkin wedges surrounded by mixed greens and goat or a blue cheese. Talk about an awesome autumnal salad!