Recipe: Roasted Pumpkin with Preserved Lemon and Basil Dressing

Well friends, it’s officially my favorite time of year – deep fall, the calm before the storm of the holiday season.  Pumpkins and persimmons abound at the farmer’s market, greens taking off in the winter garden, and much welcomed cooler temperatures are here in Southern California.  I feel like everyone went straight from Halloween to Christmas this year, but considering how fast this year has already gone, I’m actively trying to not skip ahead and to really enjoy this season.  I’ve been roasting up lots of squash and savoring the flavors of deep fall, and I’m excited to share my new favorite flavor combination in the recipe below.

This recipe for roasted pumpkin is a wonderful blend of everything in season right now.  It’s light, it’s bright, and it’s a very California take on a fall classic – and I’m very much here for it.  Fall is the time of year that my herbs bounce back from the oppressive summer heat and absolutely thrive, and the very first lemons on my tree start to ripen.  I wanted to combine these flavors with a slow roasted squash, and the results were pure magic.

I used my recipe for Sugar Preserved Lemons as the base for my dressing.  They pack an intense citrusy punch, and I always have them on-hand this time of year.  If you don’t, no need to worry – they’re easy to make!  Simply slice a few lemons into very thin rounds and layer each slice with a hearty sprinkling of sugar in a jar or any other container.  Allow to marinate at least overnight before making this recipe (but you could even get away with marinating for a few hours if you’re in a pinch!).  Full recipe is linked here if you would like to follow along with more precise measurements.  Once you have these made and marinating, the rest of this recipe is a sinch!

For my pumpkin, I used a Red Kuri squash, but there are so many alternatives that will work here.  Sugar pie pumpkins would be great, kabocha squash, butternut squash, acorn squash, and even delicata squash would all be really good here.  I chose the Red Kuri because I love their orange color and sweetness, and I think the roasted flavors go really well with the sweet and tangy dressing.  But really, any squash will do here!

This recipe would be a really fun addition to your Thanksgiving table if you are looking for a fresh take on a traditional side.  I also made this simply for meal prep purposes – I roasted up my squash and made a big batch of dressing which I assembled and enjoyed throughout the week.  This is definitely a take on the classic roasted squash that I will surely be repeating this season, and I hope you give it a try!

Recipe down below, photo up top!  This makes enough for 1 roasted squash, about 4-6 servings.

Roasted Pumpkin with Preserved Lemon and Basil Dressing

Ingredients:

  • For the Pumpkin:
    • 1 Kabocha or Red Kuri Squash
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 tsp salt
  • For the Preserved Lemon and Basil Dressing
    • 4-6 sprigs of basil (about ¼ cup of leaves, loosely packed)
    • 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    • ¼ tsp salt

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  2. Using a sharp knife, cut off the stem end of the squash, and then cut the squash in half (lengthwise).  Using a spoon, remove the seeds from the inside of the squash.  Cut the cleaned squash in half again (lengthwise), and cut each quarter into three more pieces (again, lengthwise) to create wedges.
  3. Place the squash wedges onto a baking sheet, and drizzle with olive oil and salt.  Toss to combine so that each of the squash wedges gets an even coating of oil and salt.  Arrange the squash in a single layer on the baking sheet, and bake at 375 for 45 minutes until tender and slightly browned.
  4. While the squash is baking, make the Preserved Lemon and Basil Dressing.  Remove about ¼ cup of sugar preserved lemons from the jar, and dice the slices into large pieces (about ¼ – ½ inch).  Add the diced preserved lemons to a small bowl.
  5. Remove the basil leaves from the stems, and stack into a small pile.  Roll the pile of basil leaves into a small cylinder, and slice across the rolled basil leaves to produce thin strips.  Add the sliced basil to the bowl with the chopped preserved lemons.
  6. Add olive oil, salt, and a bit of the preserved lemon juice to the bowl with the preserved lemons and basil.  Stir to combine, and set aside until roasted squash is ready.
  7. Once the squash is cooked through, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.  Arrange the roasted squash on a plate or platter, then spoon the preserved lemon dressing over the wedges of squash.  Drizzle the platter with the remaining olive oil and juice from the dressing, and serve!
  8. Enjoy!

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