Pumpkin recipes with carving leftovers from two chefs from Charlotte

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Chef Joya’s pumpkin recipe: empanadas. (Photo by Kristen Stegall / Novice Studios)

When you think of pumpkin, besides cake, you most likely think of beer and latte. But here’s the thing: pumpkin spice isn’t a pumpkin, it’s an artificial flavor. After carving our jack-o-lanterns, we wanted to see some new ways to use all of those pumpkin entrails, so we reached out to two of the best chefs to see what ideas they have for a great pumpkin recipe.

Adjoa Courtney, known professionally as Chef Joya, became known for her web series Cooking With Joya. The longtime vegan chef has since published four cookbooks, including It’s Soul Mahmazing! vol. 1 and From the table of my ancestors. Their vegan pumpkin empanadas are a perfect recipe for Halloween get-togethers.

Vegan pumpkin empanadas

What you need:

  • 10 empanada pre-made dough slices with annatto (defrosted)
  • 12 ounces. made from vegan minced meat
  • 3 tablespoons of green Sofrito (make your own with recipe in From My Ancestors’ Table: African & Caribbean Vegan Food For The Soul)
  • 1 tablespoon. of grapeseed oil
  • 3 TBSP. of pumpkin puree
  • 1 packet of Sazon
  • 1 tablespoon. by Chef Joya’s Red House Seasoning
  • 1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 oz. of vegan mozzarella
  • 2 cups of oil for frying
Pumpkin recipe
Chef Joya presents her pumpkin empanadas. (Photo by Kristen Stegall / Novice Studios)

What should I do:

  1. Put grapeseed oil in a saucepan. Add vegan ground beef, Worcestershire vegan, and Red House seasoning.
  2. Cook for two minutes. Add the sazon, sofrito and pumpkin puree. Cook for two minutes.
  3. Heat the oil to 350 degrees.
  4. Place 1-2 tablespoons of the meat mixture and 1 tablespoon of cheese on half of the dough sheet. Wet the edges with water and fold over. Close with a fork. Add to the oil and fry for 1 min.
  5. Drain on a paper towel and enjoy.

Alyssa Wilen cooked for all of her life until 2013 when she started Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen with her husband Andrew. CAK has won multiple awards and recently moved to a bespoke, state-of-the-art kitchen in the South End, where they serve guests and host classes. In 2020, Alyssa and her team launched a home delivery service and continued to serve their loyal fan base despite a pandemic.

Chef Alyssa’s pumpkin risotto with sage oil is a simple but classy dish that will impress anyone.

Chef Alyssa's Kitchen, Pumpkin Recipe
Chef Alyssa in the kitchen. (Courtesy photo of CAK)

Pumpkin risotto with sage oil

What you need:

  • 1 pound pumpkin like a butterkin or sugar baby
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 liters of chicken or vegetable stock (or water)
  • ½ yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 ½ cups Anson Mills Vialone Nano Risotto Rice (or Arborio)
  • 1 cup of dry white wine
  • 2 TBSP. unsalted butter
  • ½ cup (about 2 ounces) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and white pepper to taste
  • Sage oil (recipe follows)

What should I do:

  1. Set the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Peel the pumpkin and dice it into medium-sized (¼ “) pieces. Place in a bowl and mix with half of the olive oil (2 tablespoons) and a little salt.
  3. Spread on a baking sheet lined with baking paper and fry in the middle of the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until very tender.
  4. When done, transfer half to a bowl and mash it with a fork or cookie cutter and set aside.
  5. In a 4 liter saucepan, heat the broth / water so it’s close and ready when you need it.
  6. In a separate heavy, wide 4- to 6-quart saucepan, heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat. Add and cook the onions until translucent, then stir with a wooden spoon for about 2 minutes. With salt.
  7. Add the rice and cook, stirring frequently, until the edges of the grains are transparent, about 2 minutes.
  8. Add the wine, stirring frequently, until the wine is absorbed by the rice. Do not let the rice dry out; about 2 minutes.
  9. Add about 2 cups of the warm broth and stir throughout the cooking time until most of the liquid is absorbed; 6 to 8 minutes.
  10. Add more broth to cover the rice while it is absorbed but before the rice gets too dry until tender.
  11. Your risotto is ready when the grains are cooked through and “al dente”.
  12. Stir in the pureed and diced roasted pumpkin, butter, cheese and season with salt and pepper.
  13. Serve spooned over with sage oil.
Pumpkin recipe
Chef Alyssa’s pumpkin recipe: risotto with sage oil. (Photo by Alyssa Wilen)

Sage oil:

  1. ½ cup of fresh sage leaves
  2. ½ cup + 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  3. 1 teaspoon honey
  4. 1 lemon
  5. 1 teaspoon sea salt

In a blender, puree the sage, oil, lemon juice, honey and salt to a smooth mass.
Line a strainer basket with a cheesecloth over a bowl. Pour the oil into the basket and let it drain slowly in the refrigerator.


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