It’s the time of the year when the stores are full of pumpkin spice this and pumpkin spice that. Of course you can’t forget the pumpkin spice lattes. Which, for the record, I do not drink. I can’t help it, I have never liked the taste.
When most people think of eating pumpkin they think of pie or other desserts. I do love a good piece of pumpkin pie with a big dollop of whipped cream, and I am a huge fan of pumpkin rolls. I also enjoy a glass of my husband’s home-brew that has been brewed with this delicious gourd. Did you know that pumpkin can be delicious in a savory form?
While working at the library the other day, The Pumpkin Cookbook caught my eye. My friend Leighann had given me three pumpkins that she grew, and this book was full of recipes that I wanted to try. I decided that I would make the Chicken-Pumpkin Tacos. I changed a couple things in the original recipe to suit my family’s taste. These tacos were a huge hit!
Before we get to the recipe, I feel I should share a few things I have learned about cooking with pumpkins. Even though the bright orange, carving pumpkins are edible, they are not the best ones for eating. I recommend that you get a pumpkin labeled “sugar” or “pie” pumpkin.
When a recipe calls for fresh pumpkin, I use a very sharp chef’s knife to cut the pumpkin in half, then in quarters. This makes it easy to remove the seeds and fibers, and to cut the pumpkin into even smaller pieces which are easy to peel. I remove the outside skin from pumpkin with a sharp paring knife pretty much the same way I remove the rind from cantaloupe or watermelon.
Here is how I made the tacos.
1 tablespoon olive oil or lard (my personal favorite is from pasture raised pigs)
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts halves
2 bell peppers, seeded and chopped
2 cups fresh pumpkin, seeds and fibers removed, peeled and diced
1 can tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
Dash of hot sauce
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
Flour tortillas and toppings of your choice. I used cilantro, grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, lettuce, and salsa
1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes.
2. Add the chicken and peppers, and cook for another 5 minutes or so.
3. Flip the chicken to cook the other side, and add the pumpkin, tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, hot sauce, and salt.
4. I gave the pumpkin and spices a little bit of a stir and then covered the pan. Lower the heat a little and cook until the chicken is tender and no longer pink and the the pumpkin can be pierced with a fork; about 10-15 minutes.
5. Once the chicken is cooked, remove from pan and shred it. Put the chicken back into the pan and give everything a good stir.
6. Stir in the lime juice.
7. Heat your flour tortillas, top with your choice of toppings, and enjoy!
Even though the pumpkin flavor isn’t very strong in this dish, you are getting all of the health benefits from this nutrient dense gourd. Pumpkin is full of vitamin C, potassium, and huge amounts of vitamin A. I love the texture the pumpkin adds to these tacos. These things were so filling that I was only able to eat one!
If you are a pumpkin lover like me, I highly recommend you try these tacos. I also recommend that you check out this pumpkin cookbook. There are so many recipes I want to try!