Pumpkin

Using fresh roasted pumpkin along with tasty pine nuts and leaves of basil, this savory pumpkin pesto bruschetta recipe is a smart choice for pre-dinner appetizers, an afternoon snack for the gang or as a harvest cocktail party hors-d’oeuvre. Bright orange pumpkin meat provides high levels of vitamins A and C, along with plenty of fiber and potassium as well.

This recipe delivers a cornucopia of fall flavors by using fresh, organic ingredients picked at the peak of flavor. If time is short, you can roast the pumpkin and make the pesto mix a day or two before the party, and then assemble your bruschettas just before your celebration begins starts. This recipe makes about 40 appetizer servings.

Ingredients

1 pie pumpkin (also called sugar pumpkins)

2 loaves fresh baked baguettes or gluten-free loaves

1 white or yellow onion, chopped

8 ounces goat cheese

½ cup olive oil + 2 Tablespoons + extra for drizzling pumpkin before roasting

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves

½ cup pine nuts

3 cloves garlic

¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

¼ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

½ cup roasted pepitos (shelled pumpkin seeds)

Method

1. Wash and dry your sweet pie pumpkin, then slice it in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon (you can roast these seeds to use for the topping; just be sure to shell them first). Drizzle the pumpkin halves with olive oil, and sprinkle them lightly with salt and pepper.

2. Place the pumpkin halves face down on a baking dish, and roast for 45-60 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit or until tender and beginning to caramelize. Scoop out the flesh and discard the skin. Turn your oven up to 400 degrees in preparation for the bruschetta.

3. While the pumpkin is roasting, you can prepare your fresh pesto sauce. In a food processor or blender, combine the basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, ½ cup olive oil, ¼ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Puree until the mixture is well blended.

4. Now prepare your pumpkin topping. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a medium saucepan and heat on high; add your onions and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until brown.

5. Combine the roasted pumpkin flesh with the sautéed onions and season with salt and pepper to taste.

6. With a serrated knife, slice your bread diagonally to create pieces that are about ½” thick. Place the slices on a cookie sheet and toast in the oven for about 5 minutes.

7. Assemble the bruschetta by layering onto the toasted slices of bread the pesto first, followed by the pumpkin mixture. Top with a tuft of goat cheese and a light sprinkled of roasted pepitos. Serve immediately.

Alternatives:

For a quicker rendition of this recipe, you can use your favorite jarred pesto sauce and/or pumpkin. Just be sure to buy plain pumpkin and not pumpkin pie mix.

Spice it up by adding 2 teaspoons of Cholula or your favorite hot sauce to the pumpkin and onion mixture.

Image: Robert S. Donovan