Before I get to my delicious pumpkin casserole recipe, I’d like to begin with an unintentionally Halloweenish photo:
Look closely. I was trying to take a basic photo of our homegrown pumpkin–the accidental result of tossing last year’s seeds into the compost pile–when someone decided that she would make a better subject. So what you see here is an accidentally Halloweenish photo of an accidental pumpkin.
There’s probably a moral here somewhere, something like “the best things happen by accident,” but I prefer to think of the photo and the pumpkin as representative of the way I work: throw enough scraps into the compost, photos onto the memory card, or ingredients into the pot, and I’ll eventually come up with something worth growing, viewing, or eating.
And this little pumpkin was definitely worth growing and eating. When D and I first noticed a pale green and white, oval-shaped fruit hanging from a thick vine, we didn’t know what it was. Gradually it took on a more traditional pumpkin shape and color, and when it stopped getting any larger, I decided that it was the offspring of one of last year’s pie pumpkins. Weighing in at just over 2 pounds, it probably would have been just the right size for a pumpkin pie, but I decided to do something a little less traditional with it.
My idea was to make a layered pumpkin casserole, sort of like Mexican Lasagna, but with slices of pumpkin instead of tortillas. The resulting casserole didn’t come out looking quite so neatly layered, but I think it fits my “toss enough ingredients” theme just about perfectly. It won’t win any beauty contests, but who cares? It’s all about the flavor, and in this case, melt-in-your-mouth slices of pumpkin plus cumin-kissed black beans and a creamy, cheesy-tasting sauce equal a real winner!
(This dish is actually uglier than it appears in this photo! Consider yourself warned.)
Pumpkin and Black Bean Casserole
It takes a bit of effort to peel and slice pumpkin, but it's worth it!
- 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans or one can, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup corn fresh or frozen
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 1/2 bell pepper finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder or other mild chili powder
- 1/8–1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder to taste
- 15 ounces canned tomatoes drained and liquid reserved*
- 1 pound pumpkin about 1/2 one small pumpkin or any winter squash (butternut, acorn, etc.)
- 3/4 cup soymilk or other non-dairy milk
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Spanish paprika
- 1 tablespoon tahini optional
- In a large bowl, combine the black beans with the next 8 ingredients and set aside.
- Cut the pumpkin in half. Set aside one half for another use and peel the other half. Cut it into very thin slices about 1/4-inch thick and 2 inches long.
Preheat oven to 425F. Line a 2-quart casserole dish with parchment paper (or wipe it with a tiny bit of oil, if you desire.) Lay one-third of the pumpkin slices in the bottom of the dish, and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Cover with half of the bean mixture. Repeat layers with another third of the pumpkin and the remainder of the beans. Finish with the final third of the pumpkin slices.
- In a blender, combine the reserved *tomato liquid (about 1/2 cup) with the soymilk and remaining ingredients. Blend well and pour over the pumpkin. Cover tightly, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for 20-30 minutes, until sauce is thick and bubbly and pumpkin is tender.
*If you prefer to use fresh tomatoes, use one cup of chopped tomatoes and substitute 1/2 cup of water for tomato juice in the sauce recipe.
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