~*~ Homemade Charred Pumpkin Salsa ~*~
SERVES: ~3 cups ⎪ LEVEL: EASY
Get ready for a salsa with explosions of flavor, and just the right amount of smoky goodness. Fire-roasting or “burning” the vegetables is the secret to bringing out those warming spices. Use real pumpkin instead of canned for a more vegetal and chunky salsa. Although, a shot of maple syrup and sprinkle of cinnamon doesn’t hurt (it is pumpkin spice season after all). Add any other in-season produce like apples or butternut squash. Just be sure to chill the salsa in the fridge for at least 3 hours to let the flavors mingle. Before serving, heat it up in the microwave. This salsa is meant to be eaten warm! It’s just not as good cold.
1 lb pie pumpkin
4 plum or roma tomatoes
1 red bell pepper
1 jalapeño pepper (remove seeds and ribs for milder spice)
2 garlic cloves
1 small onion
1 small lime
1 teaspoon maple syrup, optional
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
cilantro, for garnish
1. PREP THE PUMPKIN
Preheat oven to 400F. With a sharp knife*, cut the top and bottom of the pumpkin**. Cut off the skin, following the curve, with a knife or a vegetable peeler. Cut the pumpkin from top to bottom. Use a spoon to scoop out the pulp and seeds into a bowl. Cut into ½-inch chunks. Arrange on a foil-lined baking sheet and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes or until fork tender.
*TIP* Alternatively, stick the whole pumpkin in a microwave for 5 minutes to soften tough outer shell. Or place in the oven at 400F for 20-30 minutes. First, pierce the crown two or three times with a knife. Cook just until they begin to soften, but are still firm enough to handle.
**TIP** You can place a damp towel under the pumpkin to give yourself more stability while cutting.
2. BROIL THE VEGETABLES
Adjust the oven rack to 4 inches below broiler and preheat broiler to high. Cut the tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, and jalapeño into 1-inch chunks. Place vegetables and pumpkin chunks on a foil-lined, oiled baking sheet. Broil for about 8 minutes, rotating the pan until all the vegetables are charred and blackened on top. Reserve half the pumpkin chunks.
3. BLEND INTO SALSA
Transfer vegetables to a food processor, blender, or cup of an immersion blender. Add juice from 1 lime, maple syrup, salt, cumin, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Blend to preferred salsa consistency. Stir in reserved pumpkin chunks. Taste and adjust seasoning. When ready to serve, place in a microwave-safe bowl and heat gently, stirring regularly, until warm.
~*~ EXTRAS ~*~
For Halloween Tortilla Chips:
Pre-heat oven to 350F. Stack 3 tortillas at a time and cut into shapes using Halloween cookie cutters. Spread them on a baking sheet and bake for 5-6 minutes. Flip with tongs or forks and sprint with salt. Bake for another 6 minutes or until they begin to brown. Remove from oven and let cool. Spring with salt to serve.
For Pumpkin Serving Bowl:
Preheat oven to 350F. Wash and dry the miniature pumpkin, then cut out the top as you would a jack o’lantern. Make sure you carve a wide enough diameter in the pumpkin top to make it usable as a bowl. If not, cut the opening a little wider. Pull the carved top off, then use a spoon to scoop out the guts. You can use a paring knife to cut away the inside of the pumpkin to make the top opening a larger. Fill it with your salsa.
For Pumpkin Seed Garnish:
Remove seeds from the pumpkin pulp and rinse under warm water to remove any remaining pulp. Pat dry and let sit until completely dry. Toss the seeds with oil, salt, and pepper. Spread onto a baking sheet and roast for 12 – 15 minutes, toss halfway through. Remove from the oven when seeds are lightly brown.