Move over pumpkin pie…there’s some savory competition in town!
This time of year, our farm market is a sea of cheery pumpkins in fanciful shapes, colors and textures. I’m a little embarrassed to admit, though, that I had never cooked any of these wondrous squash until this autumn when one of the employees at the market shared a cooking method with me that an older and more seasoned customer had shared with him.
Ever since then, I have been creating new recipes featuring savory roasted and grilled pumpkin as fast as I can. This one was inspired by my idea for miso-roasted pumpkin as a side dish, but ended up as a light and lovely Japanese-inspired meal in a bowl.
Yield: 4 servings
- 1 pound extra-firm tofu (not Silken)
- Sea salt
- 1 3/4 pounds of pumpkin (this weight is with seeds and pulp removed, but not the skin)
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon vegan miso (I used a red, organic variety)
- 1 teaspoon agave nectar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 3 quarts vegetable broth or vegan chicken –flavored broth
- 8 ounces Udon noodles (or rice noodles, if you prefer)
- 2 tablespoons vegan miso
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoon soy sauce
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced, a few of the green slices reserved for garnish
- Optional garnish: about 1 teaspoon of sesame seeds
- Gently press tofu between two light-weight cutting boards, plates, etc., lined with paper towel. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut pumpkin into approximately 3/4-inch chunks and remove skin with a paring knife. In a small cup, whisk together vinegar, miso, agave nectar, sesame oil, soy sauce, and ginger. If miso resists incorporating, heat the mixture for a few seconds in the microwave and then whisk. Oil a metal baking dish and then add the olive oil right to the center of the pan. Add pumpkin on top, drizzle with the miso mixture, and then, with your fingers, toss all it all together in the pan. Spread the chunks out, and roast for 10 minutes on one side, flip each pumpkin chunk, and roast for an additional 10 minutes. Check for to be sure the pumpkin is not scorching at about 8 minutes on each side. The second side will develop a much richer caramelization, as more moisture will have cooked off by then. Remove the pan from the oven.
- While the pumpkin roasts, bring the broth to a simmer in a loosely covered 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the noodles and simmer for about 13 minutes (or according to package directions). When tender, drain, but reserve broth for another use. Cover noodles loosely with foil to keep warm. While noodles cook, grill tofu.
- Oil a grill pan and it over medium-high. Add tofu cubes, and grill on 6 sides for about 1 to 1 ½ minutes per side, sprinkling very sparingly with salt each time your turn them. When finished cooking, remove to a paper-towel lined plate and cover loosely with foil to keep warm.
- Make the Scallion-Scented Broth: pour 2 cups of the reserved noodle broth into the saucepan in which the noodles were cooked. Add the 2 tablespoons miso, 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, and 2 teaspoons soy sauce. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat and whisk until the miso is dissolved. Add the green onion, except for the reserved slices, and simmer for another minute just to heat through.
To serve, divide noodles among 4 bowls, top with one-fourth of the pumpkin and one-fourth of the tofu, ladle one-fourth of the sauce over the top of each, and garnish with a few