I know that fall and harvest time are finally here when the colors in the produce section are dominated by warm yellows, dark vibrant greens and rich orange pumpkin colors. Pumpkins are the ambassadors of autumn, ushering in the holiday season and the promise of cooler days and nights.
The pumpkin plant originated in Central America and was introduced to the Pilgrims by the American Indians. Pumpkins provide a hefty source of vitamin A, as well as one of the tastiest forms of good-for-you fiber. The gorgeous orange color is an indicator of beta carotene, also found in carrots, beets and sweet potatoes. Pumpkin seeds are rich in protein, minerals and fiber. The seeds also have a rich, buttery taste that lends itself well to pestos, salad toppings or as a healthy snack.
I like using pumpkin to update traditional recipes, like this modern version of Beef and Pumpkin Stew. If you’re having a busy week, you can make this crowd-pleasing stew the night before in a slow cooker. Time in the refrigerator allows the spices to infuse the dish and the flavors to deepen. Reheat it as needed, and serve the next day with a flavorful Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad and a crusty loaf of warm bread. It’s a wonderful way to welcome fall.
Beef and Pumpkin Stew
- 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
- 1 beef top round steak (1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 1/2 cups cubed peeled pie pumpkin (such as a Jarrahdale, Blue Hubbard or sugar pumpkin)
- 3 small red potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1 cup (1 medium-large) peeled and cubed sweet potato
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) reduced-sodium beef broth
- 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced or crushed tomatoes (fire roasted or with bell peppers, if available), undrained
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon steak sauce
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg or allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Season beef with 1 teaspoon each of the salt and black pepper, and the chili powder. Brown the beef in batches to prevent overcrowding the skillet and steaming rather than browning the meat. Remove the beef with a slotted spoon and place in the bowl of a 4- or 5-quart slow cooker.
Add the tomato paste to the skillet and cook 1 minute, scraping up the brown bits left by the meat in the pan. Add the pumpkin, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onion and garlic to the skillet, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes.
Stir in the broth, tomatoes, bay leaves, steak sauce, Worcestershire sauce, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, the nutmeg or allspice and the cayenne pepper. Pour the pumpkin mixture over the beef in the slow cooker and stir to combine ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or until meat is tender. Uncover and cook on high for 30 minutes to reduce and thicken sauce. Serves 6.
Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad
This delicious salad is a wonderful side dish to serve with the Beef and Pumpkin Stew. To toast the almonds before chopping them, place in a small, heavy bottom pan over medium-high heat. Stir the almonds occasionally for 2-3 minutes until they turn golden brown and have a nutty aroma. They make a nutritious and crunchy topping for this salad.
- 1 bunch kale (1 pound), thinly sliced
- 1 pound Brussels sprouts, finely shredded using a mandolin or sharp knife
- 1/4 cup almonds, toasted and chopped
- 3/4 cup Pecorino, Parmesan or Romano cheese, finely grated
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 small clove garlic, finely minced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Combine the lemon juice, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper in a medium bowl or the bowl of a food processor, and mix well. Add in the olive oil, whisking or processing until combined.
Mix the sliced kale and 1/4 cup of the dressing together, squeezing and massaging the kale to coat it with the dressing. Add the shaved Brussels sprouts, almonds and cheese. Pour the remaining dressing over the top, and toss the salad until all ingredients are distributed throughout. Serves 6.
Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, culinary historian and the author of seven cookbooks. Her new cookbook is “The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook.” Her website is www.divapro.com. To see how-to videos, recipes and much, much more, Like Angela Shelf Medearis, The Kitchen Diva! on Facebook. Recipes may not be reprinted without permission from Angela Shelf Medearis.