Season of the Pumpkin, Spicy Warm Pumpkin Salad

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Marking the season of the pumpkin, I decided to share one of my own recipes.  Spicy warm pumpkin salad. It is smooth and sweet with a hint of chili to warm the blood and set you up for the season change, or not, as the case might be here on the Central Coast, California.  There is a wide variety of pumpkin and squash to choose from at this time of year, I find Butternut squash or Kabocha both work great.

You will need
1/2 pumpkin or squash of your choice: in this case I used Kabocha.
4 tablespoons Roasted Sesame Oil
2 Cloves elephant garlic or 8 pieces of regular garlic.
1 tablespoon of chopped dried red chili
1 tablespoon Rice Vinegar
Honey to taste
White pepper
Start with the dressing as you will want to bring this to the table poured over freshly steamed pumpkin whilst it is still warm. 
Chopping your own chili is a no brainer if you don't have any pre chopped. There is a cheat at the end of the recipe if your cupboards are bare of chili period!

I adore elephant garlic. It is my no nonsense, ultimate favorite.  Sweeter and once cooked pleasingly stickier. If you can't find it, you will need about 8 pieces of regular garlic to meet the same quantity of two elephant cloves.

Warm sesame oil in frying pan, add chili then a few moments later add garlic. Bring the temperature of the oil down a fraction and let the garlic and chili sizzle gently together. Elephant garlic is more likely to take a little color before loosing any, and caramelizes like an onion. If using regular garlic remove from the heat completely as you see the garlic start to loose its color. The temperature of the oil will continue to cook the chili and the garlic despite it being off the heat. 

Using a spatular, move garlic oil and chili into a bowl or pyrex jug.  Add 2 more table spoons of roasted sesame oil, rice vinegar, honey a dash of white pepper to taste. Set aside.

Halve & quarter your Kabocha. Scoop out the floss and seeds. Slice into pieces 1/2 inch ( 1 cm) thick and cook until tender but not soft. Takes about 4 mins.

Steaming veg is preferential in our house. The over all flavor of the food is fuller and sweeter and fewer nutrients are lost, compared to boiling. It is not only cleaner and healthier, the texture of the food is more easily maintained, which adds to the appeal of the dish offering a bite.

 If you need to cheat, and don't have any chili other than the sweet chili sauce kind? Simply add the sweet chili sauce instead of the honey and chili after removing garlic and oil from pan and add additional oil vinegar and pepper to taste!  Boom! Job done! 

Other than the punch of color it brings to a meal, and the tangy sweetness, I love how the pumpkin mops up the dressing. 

We often enjoy this dish with gyoza ( pot stickers),  steamed dumplings and rice. But this salad also adds heaps of flavor when served over a green leafy salad, and sits extremely well with poultry, beef or fish. 

More winter warmers coming soon. Sign up for seconds if you haven't already. 


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