Pumpkin tacos

Do you think pumpkin is relegated only to the sweet realm of pies and cookies? Think again! This bright orange member of the squash family can be used in a surprising range of savory dishes, including a spicy meal, like this pumpkin taco recipe.

Full of vitamins A and C, pumpkins are also packed with fiber, potassium and manganese. The pumpkin’s pretty orange color is due to the high levels of carotenoids, which help to prevent premature aging, infections and cardiovascular disease. A vegetable that is native to the Americas, pumpkin is a diverse ingredient that lends a nutty taste and pleasing texture to a number of delicious dishes, including tacos!

Ideal for a Dia de los Muertos party or Halloween get-together, this fall harvest recipe celebrates the best of American and Mexican cuisine. Use fresh pumpkin meat from small round pumpkins (sometimes called “sugar pumpkins”) for best results, and remember to buy organic ingredients whenever possible.

Serves: 6 (yields 12 tacos)

Ingredients

2 cups cubed fresh pumpkin

2 T vegetable oil

½ cup chicken or vegetable stock

1 T cumin

1 t chili powder

1 t garlic powder

1 t black pepper

1 t sea salt

12 corn tortillas

1 T vegetable oil (for cooking the tortillas)

1 ½ cups diced tomato

1 cup chopped white onion

1 diced ripe avocado

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Fresh lime slices for garnish

Method

1. Heat two tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the cubed pumpkin and cook for 2-3 minutes.

2. Gently stir in the chicken or vegetable stock, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, black pepper and sea salt.

3. Continue cooking the pumpkin for 6-7 minutes, or until the cubes can be pierced easily by a fork.

4. While your pumpkin is cooking, in a separate saucepan heat one tablespoon of vegetable oil on medium-high heat. Using a pair of tongs, quickly cook each corn tortilla about ten seconds on each side. Drain each tortilla between two pieces of paper towel or cloth napkins. For a healthier version of this recipe, you can skip the oil and just heat the tortillas plain.

5. Top each taco with a generous sprinkling of fresh chopped tomatoes, onion and cilantro. Garnish with a slice of lime and enjoy with a fresh margarita!

Alternatives:

- Make pumpkin burritos instead by using flour tortillas (these don’t need to be cooked in oil) and adding a layer of black beans and brown rice.

- For a quicker (although less healthy) recipe, go for crispy tacos. Just pop store-bought taco shells in a 350-degree oven for 5 minutes, and fill with your pumpkin mix.

- Turn up the heat by adding two chopped, seeded jalapenos to your pumpkin mix while cooking.

- Add a topping of fresh Cotija cheese or queso fresco for extra protein and flavor.

- Serve with homemade guacamole and salsa for a fabulous Mexican meal!

- Get pumpkin crazy and add a few roasted pumpkin seeds to the top of each taco.

Image: SweetOnVeg