This is a colourful and unique appetizer that will get your guests talking! By baking the pumpkin and prepping the sauce in advance, it comes together quickly; make this the first dish on and off the barbecue for grill night or before Thanksgiving dinner.
Rainy day blues
If the weather is lousy for grilling, ensure the pumpkin is fully fork tender after baking. Finish in the oven on broil for 3 to 5 minutes to achieve a golden crispness.
1 sugar pumpkin, kabocha squash, or red kuri squash
1 Tbsp (15 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cayenne pepper, to taste
1/2 cup (125 mL) Cotija or feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup (60 mL) whole milk plain yogurt
1/3 cup (80 mL) crema or sour cream
3 Tbsp (45 mL) chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp (5 mL) freshly ground cumin seeds
Black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Cut pumpkin in half at stem and scoop out seeds. Cut each half into 3 or 4 pieces, depending on size of pumpkin, and place on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until slightly fork tender but not mushy.
Meanwhile, combine sauce ingredients in bowl. Refrigerate to allow flavours to meld until ready to serve.
Heat barbecue to medium heat. Place baked pumpkin slices skin side down on grill. Cook until pumpkin is fully tender with a fork, but try to avoid charring skin, as it is edible. Flip and cook for 2 minutes to add some grill marks. Place on cutting board and cut into halves or thirds (two-bite pieces), depending on size of pumpkin. Drizzle with cheese sauce and serve.