Pumpkin Ratatouille

Thanksgiving with friends, I’m fashionably tardy in filling in what I’m bringing to the party. (Should I be surprised that we’re using a groupware spreadsheet to track this?) To atone for my delay, I volunteered to fill in the two remaining blank spots in addition to dinner rolls; they are, “appetizer,” and, “something pumpkin-y.” As follows:

 

Pumpkin Ratatouille

1 small pumpkin

1 large onion

2 bell peppers

4 roma tomatoes

2 small cloves garlic

1/2 bunch parsley

Olive oil, cooking oil, white wine, vinegar, salt, pepper

A note on the ingredients: they’re extremely variable. I couldn’t find pumpkin so I used butternut squash (yeah… I lied about that one, but did anyone really notice?). One pepper was old and soggy, the other was a poblano. Red onions would probably make this more colorful. Red wine would work. I used apple cider vinegar. This is a stew-like dish so be liberal in substitutions.

Cut the pumpkin in half and roast the halves for 30 minutes on broil. They should be browned and softened. Peel off the skin or cut it off with a potato peeler. Don’t burn your hands. Scoop out the seeds; discard them if you done’t want them for anything else. Once cleaned, dice it into one-inch cubes. Cut up the onion, peppers and tomatoes into one-inch pieces while you’re at it.

In a large, heavy skillet, heat some oil on low. I used my big, well-seasoned cast iron pan. I don’t cook with straight olive oil and I don’t cook with extra virgin oilve oil. I mixed cooking oil (vegetable, peanut, canola… whatever) with olive oil and butter. Saute the garlic and onions until the onions are translucent. Remove them and leave them in a large bowl.

Repeat this process for the peppers and tomatoes. You can use the same bowl, everything’s going to get mixed together. Repeat again for the pumpkin.

Once everything is well softened, lower the heat and put it all back in the skillet. Roughly chop half the parsley and add that in. Add the wine, a tiny bit of vinegar, as much sugar as you need to balance the sour flavor, and salt and pepper to taste. Let this cook for about half an hour or more. Add water if it starts to get dry.

Allow the whole thing to cool. Roughly chop the remaining parsley and stir it in. It tastes better the next day, simply refrigerate.

I served this at room temperature with dinner rolls. Depending on what part of the world you’re from, you may want it heated with toasted baguette. How many people it serves depends on how hungry they are and how they’re eating it. As an appetizer for 15 people who each brought, on average, 2 dishes to a potluck, half the batch was mostly eaten.

 

 

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