Pumpkin Chili

Pumpkin Chili

This autumnal chili, invented by Didi Emmons, uses pumpkin flesh and seeds. The curry and cinnamon makes this chili a bit exotic. It’s a dish that Didi and her cat Henry thoroughly enjoy.

Serves 6

1 sugar pumpkin, about 2 lbs.
1 T. vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 T. chili powder
1 T. curry powder
½ t. ground cinnamon
6 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 ½ c. cooked bulgur
1 can organic kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
½ c. toasted (green) pumpkin seeds
½ c. chopped cilantro leaves and stems
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375. Cut the pumpkin in half with a large knife such as a cleaver. Scoop out the seeds with a large spoon, remove the stringy innards, and rinse the seeds in a colander to remove any bits of flesh. Lay the seeds out on a paper towel to dry. Place the pumpkin open side down and bake until the flesh is soft, about 50 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and put it aside to cool. Now sprinkle the rinsed and dried pumpkin seeds on a prepared baking sheet, sprinkle with some salt, if desired, and toast in the oven until they are nicely browned and crisp, about 10 minutes, depending upon your oven. Set them aside.

In a large heavy bottomed saucepan or stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, as well as the spices. Stir often for about 5 minutes, or until the onions turn soft. Add the tomatoes and bulgur and about 2 cups water. Bring to a simmer.

Meanwhile, spoon the flesh from the pumpkin and add it to the simmering chili along with the beans. Cook the chili for about 20 minutes, adding more water if necessary to attain a chili-like consistency. Right before serving add the toasted pumpkin seeds and the cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve hot.

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