Roasted Pumpkin with Merkén Chile & Honey

Roasted Pumpkin with Merkén Chile & Honey

Two weeks ago I got a terrible head cold that at first made my throat feel like a solid piece of rock and then morphed into congestion and then just left me aching. When I finally got a solid night of sleep (like a really solid night of sleep--12 hours, or more), I felt like I could think again. Smelling, tasting, and swallowing were still a day away. 

The worst part of a head cold to me is that your body feels totally fine--like you could run a mile- but the minute you try to do anything, you realize it was a terrible, terrible idea. By Friday I felt well enough to hit the climbing gym again, and doing so plastered a fixed smile across my face. I could taste again too, so when I got home I cooked the pumpkin I hadn't found energy to cook earlier in the week. Golden pumpkin with savory Merkén Chile: it was the first thing I smelled all week. 

Roasted Pumpkin with Merkén Chile & Honey
Roasted Pumpkin with Merkén Chile & Honey

That pumpkin filled my house with the scent of it's caramelizing edges and steaming Merkén chile. They were beautiful, but that smell was what really swept me off my feet. A drizzle of honey was all that was missing. (Doesn't honey make everything better?)

If you can't find Merkén chile don't sweat it: you can use any kind of smoked red chile flake in this recipe. 

Roasted Pumpkin with Merkén Chile & Honey
Roasted Pumpkin with Merkén Chile & Honey

Roasted Pumpkin with Merkén Chile & Honey

Published October 19, 2017 by
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Serves: 4   |    Total Time: 50 minutes



Ingredients:

  • 1 small pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 2 teaspoons merkén chile, or other smoked red chile flake
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey 
  • Garnish: 2 tablespoons minced cilantro

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Slice pumpkin half, remove stem, and seeds. Slice into wedges, about 1-inch thick.
  2. Fit a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place pumpkins on pan, and brush with avocado oil. Sprinkle with garlic powder, salt, and merkén. Place in oven, and bake for 30-40 minutes, until pumpkin is tender all the way through, and starting to brown on the edges.
  3. Remove from oven, and drizzle lightly with honey. Garnish with minced cilantro.

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2 Paleo Cocktails for Cinco de Mayo with No Added Sugar

When you're a food blogger, you have to start celebrating Cinco de Drinko early. It's mandatory. How else would you get your recipes ready for use before the big day? And you probably should invite your friends over for test runs. How else would you be able to do quality control? How else would you know if your zero-simple-syrup and agave-syrup-free cocktails were sweet enough to make the cut? When you're a food blogger, your cocktails always look prime and perfect--Errrt!

Reality Check: Tomorrow, when all of the other students in my class join forces and overtake some bar on 16th Street Mall, I'll slyly slip out and drive home. They know by now that no matter how many times they invite me to tag along, I'll probably disappear after class. And when I get home I'll probably eat some vegetables, or an apple, or even some soup. That's what you're supposed to do on Cinco de Mayo, right? ...I guess How Old Robot was right when it added 10 years to my actual age. Maybe it should've added 20. 

I am more of a home-body these days than a typical college student. It's not that I think the drinks at the bar have too much sugar (though that might be a night excuse to try out...), I just don't see the appeal anymore. I would *way* rather have a couple of friends over for a mellow night that can be fully serviced by a single blender. That's why I celebrated Cinco de Mayo early! 

My go-to Paleo-friendly cocktail recipe is a Pineapple Ginger Margarita. It gets it's natural sweetness from pineapple, so there's no need to add simple syrup or agave. Pineapple is quite acidic, so it pairs well with tequila, and ginger adds a spicy kick that makes it interesting. I rimmed the glasses with a Vanilla-Lime Salt and used some cocktail "swords" my Grandmother bought in Toledo in the '50s to finish the deal.  Olé!

Even since my trip to Chile, my favorite liquor has been Pisco. It's actually made from grapes, so it's a Paleo-ish beverage, in the same sort of way tequila is. Traditional Pisco Sours are made with lemon juice, sugar, and egg white.  That sounded 1) way to simple for me--yawn- and 2) like too much white table sugar. I reimagined that classic to make this summery Cucumber Melon Pisco Sour with Mint. The final result is not even in the same realm as a classic Pisco Sour, but it's still amazing! With a little muddled mint, it's like a Pisco Sour and a Mint Mojito went on a date to a juice bar. 

The crowd was split as to which one was better, though I think in the end the spicy margs won out. I supposed that's appropriate--it is Cinco de Mayo, after all. Which one sounds best to you?

Pineapple Ginger Margarita

Paleo, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free,    |       |    Print Friendly and PDF

Pineapple makes this Marg naturally sweet, while ginger adds a kick!

Yields: 1 cocktail   |    Total Time:



Ingredients:

    For the drink:
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple chunks
  • 2 oz lime juice
  • 2 oz tequila, (I used Sauza Silver)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger, minced
  • Lime wedges and ginger slices for garnish

  • Vanilla-lime salt:
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon Vanilla powder
  • Zest of 1 lime

Directions:

  1. Mix the ingredients for the Vanilla-Lime Salt in a shallow bowl that is wide enough to fit the entire rim of your glasses. Wet the rim of your glass with a lime wedge, and then dip the rim in the salt to coat.
  2. Add pineapple, lime juice, tequila, and ginger to a high powered blender. Blend on high until completely liquified. Pour into glass.
  3. Skewer a lime wedge and a slice of ginger with a cocktail pick for garnish.

**Recipe for Cucumber Melon Pisco Sours follows.**

Cucumber Melon Pisco Sour

Paleo, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free,    |       |    Print Friendly and PDF

This cocktail gets its sweetness from honeydew, but a grown-up twist of cucumber keeps it complex.

Yields: 1 cocktail   |    Total Time:



Ingredients:

    For the drink:
  • 3 oz Cucumber Melon Juice (see below)
  • 2 oz pisco
  • 1/4 cup ice
  • 1 tablespoon mint leaves, chopped
  • Cucumber and mint leaves for garnish

  • Mint coconut sugar:
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon minced mint leaves

Directions:

  1. Mix the ingredients for the Mint coconut sugar in a shallow bowl that is wide enough to fit the entire rim of your glasses. Wet the rim of your glass with a lime wedge, and then dip the rim in the sugar to coat. Shake off any larger pieces of mint.
  2. Place mint leaves in your glass, along with the Pisco. Use a fork or a cocktail muddler to mash the mint leaves a little bit. Add the ice, and then pour the juice over top. Stir briefly.
  3. For garnish: use a vegetable peeler to slice a long ribbon of cucumber. Skewer a mint leaf on a cocktail pick, and then fold the cucumber ribbon over on itself and skewer that as well. (I do this twice per cocktail pick).


Cucumber Melon Juice:

  • 2 cups melon
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water

Directions:

  1. Roughly chop and peel the melon. Dice the cucumber (leaving the peel on the cucumber adds nice color to final juice).
  2. Place all ingredients in a high powered blender. Blend on high until completely liquified.
  3. Position a nut milk bag over a large bowl. Pour the juice mixture through the nut milk bag to filter out the pulp. Massaging the bag a bit can speed up the straining process.
  4. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge.

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