Pumpkin is one of those quintessential autumn foods that sort of takes over the dessert category once September rolls around. Breads, pies, pancakes, muffins, cookies … if it’s a dessert, someone somewhere is getting pumpkin involved somehow! As much as I love all those cozy treats, I don’t think we use pumpkin nearly enough in savory dishes.
When I visited Malawi last spring, we were treated to a wonderful meal on the shore of Lake Malawi. Two of my favorite dishes served that evening featured pumpkin. Both were beyond delicious, filled to the brim with exotic spices that complemented the pumpkin beautifully.
Thinking about that meal, as well as several Indian dishes I’ve had over the years made with pumpkin, I decided that it’s time for me to start using the ingredient more often in non-dessert recipes. Maybe I can start a trend? Let’s hope so!
I started my savory pumpkin quest by creating a recipe for Pumpkin Pesto Flatbreads. I don’t know what else to say about these flatbreads except that they are DELICIOUS. My daughter Cate and I could not stop eating the stuff. We might be addicted.
Just like my meal in Malawi, where pumpkin played well with so many different spices, the pumpkin on this flatbread pairs beautifully with the strong flavor of basil pesto. In fact, the flavor of this flatbread is like a lovely bridge from summer to fall. The fresh flavor of basil in the pesto hearkens to summer, while the pumpkin decidedly leads us into fall.
The flatbreads would be perfect served as an appetizer or as a delicious vegetarian dinner. You can use whatever kind of flatbread you like — I prefer using store-bought naan bread (Stonefire brand is one of my favorites).
Image Source: Jane Maynard
Pumpkin Pesto Flatbread
Makes: 1 eight-inch flatbread, 4-6 slices (recipe can be easily scaled up)
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
- 1 (8-inch) flatbread, such as thick pita or naan bread
- 2 tablespoons basil pesto
- 2 tablespoons onion, chopped and sautéed
- 1/4 cup pumpkin, cubed and cooked*
- 6-8 fresh mozzarella, thinly slices (the kind that comes stored in water)
- Olive oil for drizzling
- Salt and pepper for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Spread pesto on the flatbread evenly. Top with sautéed onions and cooked pumpkin pieces. Place sliced mozzarella evenly on top.
- Bake for approximately 10 minutes, until cheese is melted and starting to bubble.
- Remove from oven, then lightly drizzle high-quality olive oil over the top and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
*To Cook the Pumpkin:
- Use a “sugar” or “pie” pumpkin, small to medium sized (very large pumpkins do not have as good flavor or texture).
- Remove the seeds, peel the pumpkin with a peeler, and cube it into bite-sized pieces.
- To cook in the microwave: Place pumpkin in a microwave-safe bowl with about 1 tablespoon of water, cover with plastic wrap, poke a hole in the top of the plastic, then cook on high for about 5 minutes, or until pumpkin is soft.
- To cook in the oven: Preheat oven to 450 F, spread pumpkin pieces on a rimmed cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil, toss to coat, then roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until pumpkin is soft.
Note: butternut squash can be substituted for pumpkin.