Let's eat: Roasted Pumpkin Tacos

PG tested

For salsa

1 cup (about 15) Thai or small colorful chilies

2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced

¼ cup white vinegar

Kosher salt

For pear vinaigrette

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 pear, cored and cut into thin slices

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

½ cup champagne vinegar

1 cup grapeseed oil

Kosher salt

2 cups crushed pecans

¼ cup light corn syrup

¼ cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons whole cumin seeds

2½ tablespoons kosher salt

1 cup golden raisins or dried figs

2½ cups fresh orange juice

¼ cup mezcal

1 3- to 4-pound pumpkin, blue hubbard, winter or butternut squash

1 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

10 thyme sprigs

1 cup brown sugar

6 cups baby or wild arugula

1 cup goat cheese, crumbled

12 corn tortillas, warmed

Make salsa: In a mortar and pestle, pound together the chiles and garlic. Really pound it!  When you’re getting close, slowly incorporate the white vinegar. Season with salt and set aside.

Make the pear vinaigrette: In a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter until it’s nicely browned,. Add  pear and caramelize thoroughly, about 6 minutes. Add the honey and, using a heatproof spatula, scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes, just to warm through, and then set aside to cool. In a blender, combine the pear, mustard, champagne vinegar and grapeseed oil. Puree thoroughly and season with salt. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat.

In medium mixing bowl, toss together the pecans, corn syrup, granulated sugar, cumin seeds and ½ tablespoon of salt. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and roast for about 8 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Once thoroughly cooled, break up the pecans with your hands and set aside.

In saucepan over high heat, combine the raisins, orange juice and mezcal. Let the mixture reduce until the raisins soak up 90 percent of the juice. They should be plump. Set aside.

Cut pumpkin into wedges and portion into 2- by-3-inch pieces about ¾ inch thick, then roast in 425-degree oven until soft, about 20 minutes. Brush with melted butter, sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons salt, pepper, thyme and brown sugar. Roast for another 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the arugula, raisins, pecans, goat cheese and pear vinaigrette so it’s almost like a salad. Top the tortillas with a layer of roasted pumpkin, then the arugula mixture, and finally the salsa. Serve immediately.

Makes 12 tacos.

— Adapted from “Guerrilla Tacos: Recipes from the Streets of L.A.‘ by Wesley Avila and Richard Parks

Gretchen McKay: gmckay@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1419 or on Twitter @gtmckay.


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