I love anything pumpkin, and I get soooo excited every year when it is everywhere, in every form, for me to indulge in. Pumpkin seeds, pumpkin latte, pumpkin spice cookies and my favorite-pumpkin bread. Unfortunately, I have a bit of a sweet tooth, as you can tell by my midsection, and adding pumpkin to anything sweet is heaven to me. With that being said, I wanted to try some savory pumpkin options this fall to mix it up a bit and experiment with some of our Gourmet Convenience products.

My first experiment was to try out pumpkin fries… I have yet to ever try this tasty treat--why not combine two beautiful culinary triumphs, fries and pumpkin? My second recipe is pumpkin risotto-it never fails to happen that when I go out to dinner I order risotto. I can’t get enough of it and now with pumpkin…even better!

Pumpkin Fries with BBQ Pulled Chicken & Cojita Cheese
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
2 pumpkins, sugar or baking variety (approximately 8 cups when cut up)
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 T extra virgin olive oil
2 lbs Roots Pulled Chicken (or pull your own)
1 jar of Bellisari’s Barista Sauce
1 cup crumbled Cojita Cheese (feta is fine also)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the pumpkins in half lengthwise and remove all seeds. Use a potato peeler to remove pumpkin skins. Using a very sharp knife, cut pumpkins into 1/4 - 1/2-inch-thick strips to resemble french fries. Using the garlic, onion powder, cayenne pepper and olive oil, coat the pumpkin strips by tossing in a bowl until well coated. Arrange the fries in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft. While the fries are cooking, heat the Roots pulled chicken on the stovetop and add the Bellisari’s Barista Sauce to the saucepan (setting aside ¼ cup of the sauce) and mix thoroughly while being sure to coat all the chicken. Place the fries on a platter and add the chicken and the Cojita cheese on top. Drizzle remaining Bellisari’s Barista Sauce on the entire platter and enjoy!

Bellisari's Pumpkin Risotto

Pumpkin Blue Cheese Risotto
Serves 2-4

Ingredients:
1 large pumpkin, sugar or baking variety
Sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil
4 cups chicken stock
1 small onion, peeled and chopped finely
2 cups Arborio rice
1 jar of Bellisari’s Blue Cheese, Honey & Shallot Spread
3 T butter
Freshly ground black pepper
2 T finely chopped parsley

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cut the pumpkins in half, lengthwise, and remove all seeds. Use a potato peeler to remove pumpkin skins. Cut the pumpkin into 1-inch cubes and place on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt and then pour a little olive oil over the cubes. Roast on the center shelf at 350 degrees, until the pumpkin is cooked and well browned. Keep the pumpkin warm until you are ready to mix it into the risotto.

Bring the chicken stock to boil and allow it to simmer over very low heat. Brown the onion in the butter in a large sauté pan over low heat until it starts to brown. Add the rice and continue frying for 1 to 2 minutes, taking care not to burn the onion, then add a ladle of the stock and cook, stirring the rice constantly with a metal spoon.

Continue to add the stock as it is absorbed into the rice until the rice is cooked - it should be firm to the bite, but not chalky, to make a moist and creamy risotto. Quickly stir in 2 T of Bellisari’s Blue Cheese Honey & Shallot Spread then carefully fold in the cubes of roasted pumpkin. Garnish with parsley or pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds.) Check our Facebook page for this week's Tuesday Tip for directions on how to make delicious pepitas. Enjoy!