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Roast Pumpkin Wedges
with Warm Pear & Spinach Quinoa
(easy vegan thanksgiving)
This is a simple, filling, wheat-free and vegan dish that I often use for special holidays, such as Thanksgiving or Christmas. It works nicely as a feature meal and provides satisfying ‘meat’ for those no-turkey-eaters to dig into. And it’s way better than tofurkey. You can add this on to a full traditional feast, and even non-vegans can enjoy it as an accompaniment to the turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, and other standard holiday fixings.
That said, I also make this meal at other times of the year, even for a weeknight dinner during pumpkin season. Once you’ve wrangled the pumpkin and have the wedges roasting in the oven, there’s hardly any work involved.
As for the pumpkin, here in Argentina I use what are called ‘zapallos’ (which means pumpkin). The local ones are technically called 'zapallo negro' or 'zapallo brasileño' (meaning black pumpkin or Brazilian pumpkin).
I still haven’t figured out if there is an exact equivalent in the US. However, you can use a traditional orange pumpkin, or any type of thick-skinned squash with creamy orange flesh. Even something like acorn squash would likely work well here.
Go ahead and roast the whole pumpkin while you’re at it and use any extra as leftovers for lunch, as a side dish with another meal, or in a soup. It doesn’t hurt to make extra filling either. I have also used green apple, nectarine and kale in this recipe, all of which turn out well. But this version is my favorite.
Recipe for Warm Pear & Spinach Quinoa with Roasted Pumpkin Wedges
I find that one to two wedges with filling per person is more than generous. You can choose the size and shape of the wedges. See photos for two versions I use.
Pumpkin wedges (or orange fleshy squash of choice)
1 cup water, or more as needed
Filling (Makes enough for 2 for dinner, or 4 as sides)-
1 very large bunch spinach (1.5 - 2 cups wilted)
2-3 cups cooked quinoa- any temperature
2 pears- ripe (ready to eat), cut into small slices or cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons olive oil
Fresh lemon juice
Heat oven to 400F (200C).
Cut pumpkin or squash in half and remove seeds. Continue cutting into large wedges. Arrange wedges in a large baking tray, with at least one cut side down. Sprinkle generously with salt, drizzle liberally with olive oil, and pour at least 1 cup water into the bottom of the pan (so there is an even layer that each wedge is lying in).
Roast about 1 hour in the hot oven, flipping the wedges halfway (kitchen tongs work great here), and adding salt again and a little more olive oil. If the water dries up, just add more to the pan. During the last 10 minutes, flip the wedges flesh side up and give them one last light dose of salt and olive oil
When the wedges are completely tender (a knife inserted into the skin and flesh meets no resistance... usually the edges are softening and losing their rigid form as well), remove from oven. If preparing the pumpkin ahead of time, you can let cool to room temperature and reheat in the oven. Or, keep warm by letting the oven cool for 10-15 minutes and putting the tray back in until ready to serve.
If you need to cook the quinoa, go ahead and do so while the pumpkin is roasting. Otherwise, cold leftover quinoa works perfectly in this recipe.
Rinse the spinach well, remove any large stems, and wilt in a large pot with just the water that clings to the leaves from washing. As soon as all of the leaves have wilted, strain and press off all the water (a fine strainer or colander makes this step easy) and turn out onto a cutting board.
Once the above steps are done, making the filling comes together in about 10 minutes: You can prepare everything and then do this final step just before serving.
In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil, salt, and spices over medium. As the oil warms, add the pear slices and toss gently to heat through. Then add the quinoa, again mixing gently but thoroughly.
Give the pile of spinach that’s on your cutting board a good squeeze of lemon juice and a dusting of salt. Chop thoroughly.
Add the spinach to the pear and quinoa mixture and toss to combine.
When everything is warm, place roasted pumpkin wedges on each plate and spoon the warm pear quinoa filling over each one.
Ask me anything or leave a comment here.