I’m enjoying exploring savory uses for pumpkin this fall. It’s such a healthy vegetable and so much more versatile than we realize. It tastes a lot like acorn or any other winter squash, and I bet most of us probably wouldn’t even recognize it without the added sugar and spices. I’ve used fresh pumpkin in chili and in risotto with great results, and since sweet potato fries are a favorite of mine, I thought I’d give this idea a go.
I couldn’t think of any reason why pumpkin shouldn’t join the fry party.
The key to these is tossing them with a good spice blend. I went with a Southwestern theme and used smokey hot chipotle powder, cumin seeds, and sea salt. Coating the “fries” with olive oil encourages them to crisp up a bit on the outside. I used the same chipotle chili powder in the ranch dip, too, so you really get a nice after burn with every dunk. I’m not saying these will become the next bar food rage, but they’re a fun seasonal option.
Smaller pumpkins labeled ‘sugar’ or ”pie’ pumpkins are perfect for recipes like this. Cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff, and then peel with a good vegetable peeler. A serrated peeler works best. Be careful — pumpkins are slippery and serrated peelers are sharp! Place the pumpkin on a dish towel for stability, and work away from your body.
- 1 small sugar or pie pumpkin (big enough to yield about 1lb 3 oz pumpkin slices)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil plus more for brushing
- 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 cup of your favorite ranch dressing
- 1 tsp chipotle powder
- set oven to 425F
- Cut the pumpkin i n half and remove all the seeds and the stringy stuff. Scrape the inside of the pumpkin with a spoon to get it smooth.
- Peel the pumpkin with a serrated vegetable peeler. Be careful, the pumpkin is slippery. Then cut the halves in half again, and slice up the flesh into thin wedges. Trim the edges if your "fries" are too long for easy hand eating. I was left with about 1 lb 3 oz of pumpkin slices, enough to fill a baking sheet.
- Toss the pumpkin with the oil, chipotle powder, salt and cumin seeds in a bowl. Make sure to get the pumpkin well coated.
- Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and brush it lightly with oil. Lay out the pumpkin in one layer, with no overlapping.
- Bake for about 30 minutes until the pumpkin is tender and browned.
- Make the dip by mixing the ranch and the chipotle powder.
- Serve the fries hot out of the oven, with the dip. You can sprinkle a little more salt on, to taste.
Make sure your oven is nice and hot before you put in the fries. If you have extra pumpkin, double the recipe, but be sure to cook them in batches, don't over crowd your pan.