'Tis the season of EVERYTHING pumpkin, Fall’s beloved squash. Like many of you, I have been sucked into the pumpkin vortex.
Fall's arrival cues vibrant red, orange, and yellow-colored leaves, crisp temperatures that motivate us to sweater-up, and every pumpkin lover's dream comes true. Pumpkin lattes rule coffee shops. Pumpkin breads and muffins replace blueberry scones and bran muffins, and pumpkin pies and cheesecakes become dessert staples at every restaurant.
Every Fall, the beautiful stealthy pumpkin secures my affections. Although I may be one cup of pumpkin soup away from looking like an orange Oompa Loompa, there is more to the pumpkin's famed lattes and pies that inspires my fondness and respect for Fall's favorite squash.
Besides its sweet delicious flavor, the pumpkin is extremely nutritious providing antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. The beautiful orange pigment of the pumpkin is produced by carotene, which converts into Vitamin A (retinol). 1 cup of cooked, mushed pumpkin contains more than 200% of our recommended daily intake of Vitamin A (converted beta-carotene). This key vitamin helps maintain healthy skin, teeth, and soft tissue. Vitamin A also promotes good vision, especially in low light, according to the U.S. Library of Medicine. Combine the pumpkin's health benefits with the beetroot's vast vitamins and minerals, such as Manganese, Vitamin C, and Folate (vital for pregnant and nursing moms), and we have an even bigger reason to eat more pumpkin and beets this Fall!
Roasted Pumpkin and Beet Salad with Arugula and Feta Recipe
1 small sugar (pie) pumpkin
1 red onion
1 large bunch of arugula
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper
1 C reduced-fat feta (flavor to taste)
1 tbsp sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
1/3 C olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Just Beet It Tips
For easy prep, use ready-to-eat butternut squash (offers a similar taste), found at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. Slicing prepared organic baby beets will also cut prep time. Packaged pre-cooked baby beets by LoveBeets can be found at select grocery stores and Costco.
Using ready-to-eat beets and pumpkin or squash is a great way to eliminate extensive prep, especially around meal times!
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F.
2. Slice pumpkin in half. Scoop out the seeds and pulp. Remove pumpkin skin with a vegetable peeler. Save the seeds if you wish to roast them. This video provides tips on roasting pumpkin seeds.
3. After removing the outer layer, cut the red onion into small wedges or quarters.
4. Gently wash and peel beetroots. Use gloves to avoid stained pink fingers or leave skins attached (beet skins ARE edible just not aesthetically pleasing to most). Avoid using porous cutting boards as red beets will stain.
5. Place beetroot, pumpkin, and onion on roasting tray lined with parchment paper and coat (drizzle or brush) with half the olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, and cumin.
6. Place roasting tray with vegetables* in the oven and cook for approximately 28-30 minutes, turning the pumpkin, beetroot, and onion after 15 minutes. Allow to cool and then assemble the salad.
7. In a small bowl, mix remaining olive oil and balsamic vinegar and dried oregano. Gently toss (or drizzle) with roasted vegetables.
8. Place roasted vegetables on bed of arugula or combine arugula in the mix. Sprinkle with feta cheese and sunflower seeds. Toss if preferred.
Serve immediately or keep roasted vegetables and dressing separate from greens and chill in the refrigerator. Dressing and vegetables will keep for several days. Enjoy!
*Depending on who you ask these days, the pumpkin is either a fruit or a vegetable. For the purpose of this recipe, pumpkin has been placed in the vegetable category.