The other day while buying a bundle of veggies, the first of the pumpkins made their arrival. Not the super beasts that win contests. Not the small boulders that we carve into Halloween decorations. This is the perfect time for eating pumpkins. As pumpkins get bigger and older, their texture changes. Sure you could cut them into wedges and pickle them, but that’s about it. If you want to make pies or use them in other dishes, the sugar pumpkin is needed.
Sugar pumpkins have a relatively short season. That’s why if you see them in the market, buy them. They’re about the size of a softball or a good sized grapefruit. It’s easy to deal with them. Cut the top and bottom off. Cut it in half and scoop out the seeds. You can peel them if you’d like, but the skin does give a wonderful textural variance when grilled so I tend to leave it on.
Grilling. That leads me to today’s salad. Unless you’re one of those super He-Man, macho guys grilling outside in 5 feet of snow, the grilling season is a pure crap shoot at this time of year around here. It could snow one day or be summer-like the next. The time for grilling is now before it’s too late and another winter is upon us.
This gets to how I grill potatoes. They are steamed until about half way cooked, then grilled on high on an outdoor grill. If you don’t have an outdoor grill, whether it’s gas or charcoal/wood-fired, then “grilling” indoors isn’t really an option. I have one of the best indoor grills on the market and it just doesn’t get hot enough for this type of grilling. I’ll give two options for “grilling” potatoes in the recipe, depending on if you’re outdoors or indoors.
Finally, sage to me is the real pumpkin spice. Cinnamon, clove or nutmeg is nice, but if I’m enjoying actual pumpkin, then sage is the perfect flavour to compliment it.
Grilled Pumpkin Potato and Corn Salad with Creamy Garlic Sage Dressing
For the Grilled Pumpkin and Corn:
1 small sugar pumpkin, ends cut off, seeds removed and cut into 1cm (1/2″) thick slices
1 cob of corn, husks and silks removed
1 Tbsp cold pressed canola oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika
On a plate, drizzle the oil and sprinkle the salt. Roll the cob of corn in the seasoned oil and place on a hot grill until browned on all sides (8-12 minutes depending on your grill). Set aside to cool to room temperature. Cut the kernels off of the cob and set aside.
Sprinkle the paprika on the same plate with the seasoned oil and toss the pumpkin slices in it to coat the slices completely. Grill on medium high heat for 3-4 minutes per side. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
For the Creamy Garlic Sage Dressing:
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 Tbsp fresh sage, sliced
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 tsp salt
While the vegetables are grilling, lightly coat the garlic cloves in oil from the seasoned oil on the plate (oil and salt only). Thread the cloves of garlic on a skewer and grill for 2-3 minutes per side, until golden on all sides. Set aside to cool.
Place the grilled garlic, yogurt and salt in a blender and purée until smooth. Add the sage, stir to combine and allow to sit for 20-30 minutes to let the flavour of the sage permeate the dressing completely.
For the Grilled Potatoes:
4 medium potatoes, sliced into 1 cm (1/2″) thick slices
1 Tbsp cold pressed canola oil
Place the potatoes in a steamer and steam for 5-7 minutes. It should just start to give to pressure, but not be in any way mushy yet.
1. For Indoor Grilled Potatoes:
Preheat a nonstick pan over medium high heat and add the oil. When the heat is smouldering but not smoking, add the steamed potatoes in a single layer (you’ll need to do this in batches). Brown on each side for 4-5 minutes or until deeply golden on both sides. Remove to paper towels to drain. Cut into 1 cm (1/2″) thick ribbons. Set aside.
2. For Outdoor Grilled Potatoes:
Toss the steamed potatoes in oil and grill on high for 4-5 minutes or until deeply golden on each side. Set aside to cool, then cut into 1 cm (1/2″) thick ribbons. Set aside.
For the salad:
Reserved Grilled Pumpkin and Corn
Reserved Grilled Potatoes
Reserved Creamy Garlic Sage Dressing
In a medium bowl, gently combine the potatoes, pumpkin and corn. Drizzle with a few tablespoons of the dressing. Toss again gently and divide over 2 or 3 plates. Serves 2-3. Best served at room temperature right away after preparing.