Savory Pumpkin Appetizer
This week, I'll start with the background information since asides can be difficult to the flow of an article. My wife and I have a sort of tradition surrounding pumpkin that many of our friends are aware of (and benefit from): we buy about fifteen pounds worth of pumpkin each fall and make purée for use during the pumpkin-less months (namely, winter). Even before we went vegetarian, we always enjoyed pumpkin in all sorts of things, but the transition to being vegetarian only solidified our love for the squash because of its versatility. If you get nothing else from this paragraph, understand that pumpkin can be used in almost any dish and can be more than just pie filling.
As we enter the football playoff season, I decided to try something new. We were joining some friends for one of the games the weekend before last. Everyone was bringing something to share and there seemed to be an overabundance of desserts on the menu, so we decided to make an appetizer using our favorite ingredient. When looking for savory pumpkin ideas, I came across this recipe, which was for what is basically a pumpkin quiche. As I have stated before, I don't really follow recipes, so I changed the original based on two factors: I wanted food in appetizer form and I didn't have every other ingredient, exactly.
In our personal crab rangoon recipe that we make often, we use cupcake pans and wonton wrappers; we thought we could do the same thing here, making what amounts to mini pies. The result was a hit at the party and we would definitely make them again.
Savory Pumpkin Tart with Smoked Cheddar
Yield: 12 Servings
Total time: Approximately 45 minutes
- 36 wonton wrappers
- 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 cups puréed pumpkin
- 1 1/4 cups half and half
- 4 eggs, slightly beaten
- 1 medium-sized mild green chili, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) Smoked Cheddar Cheese, shredded
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare wonton wrappers in cupcake trays, lightly greasing the bottom of each cup.
- To make filling, sauté onions in butter in small skillet about 3 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat.
- Combine pumpkin, half and half, eggs, chiles, seasonings and sautéed onion in large bowl, mixing well. Stir in cheese.
- Pour filling into prepared wonton wrappers. Bake 25-30 minutes or until wonton is browned at edges and inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.
- I probably won't sauté the green onions next time because the baking process would cook them enough to infuse most of their flavor into the final product. Also, the butter doesn't add flavor in this case, so the additional fat and calories don't seem worth it.
- I used a poblano pepper for my mild green chili. I think I would use something spicier in the future since I am a glutton for spiciness and the use of real (meaning not canned) pumpkin can sometimes lead to more subtle flavors overall.
- The original recipe calls for bacon, which of course we don't eat, which is why I used smoked cheddar. The smokiness was a great addition to a vegetarian dish, although not necessary. The thing about this recipe that now interests me the most is the fact that the cheese can make the dish taste very different depending on the type used. In the future, I would love to try other types of cheeses to see what flavors are brought out. Using wonton wrappers means that you can experiment with different flavors by dividing up the mix into separate batches.
- Lastly, it should be obvious that my wife and I used our not-out-of-a-can pumpkin purée. However, I could see how using canned pumpkin could add a nice sweetness1 to the final product.
Experiment and enjoy!
Almost always, when using canned pumpkin, it is the sweetness of pie pumpkin because canned pumpkin is so often used specifically for pumpkin pie. That sweetness is often artificial since only smaller pumpkins contain such sweetness naturally. Larger pumpkin flavors are closer to sweet squash, although the sweetness is much less pronounced and much more subtle, as discussed above. ↩