Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Gluten Free Pumpkin Vermicelli w/Merlot-Almond Butter Sauce

Did you know that pumpkins are a part of the squash family, also known as cucurbit or gourd family.
There are copious varieties of these guys, more often than not, used for decoration instead of  dinner plate adornment. Spaghetti squash is an extremely popular gourd, glamorized for it's spaghetti-like texture and characteristics, a varital substitute for the carby-ness of pasta made from flour, and guess what, gluten free!  I found through some recipe development, that the sought after strand effect of spaghetti squash can be achieved with it's lowly cousin, the pumpkin.  I had wonderful reviews from my tasters and even I was impressed at the finished product.
Many seem to look down their noses at the pumpkins with the stringy 'meat' of some pumpkins, viewing them as old or only good for carving or decorations, not so.  I have seen this strand effect in ones as small as a volleyball as well as ones as large as a baby bear cub's head, fresh picked from a patch and store bought.  I found this lab a particularly interesing and rewarding one.  This pumpkin was  rather small, like a volleyball, so the strands were small and thin as well, hence the name.  The larger ones will yield a larger strand, closer to the size of traditional spaghetti.  The flavor is still wonderful.  I served this spectacular side with a Gluten Free Seared Pork Loin w/Chinese Black Tea and Lemon Pan Sauce, also featured on this blog.
This dish is perfect with poultry or fish as well, a fabulous alternative to a  typical mashed or baked potato, cutting the carbs by 1/3 and boosting your vitamins A and C, B6, plus magnesium, potassium, iron and a gratuitous amount of dietary fiber!!
2 cups cooked stringy pumpkin
1/3 c. Merlot
1/4. c. organic blue Agave Nectar
2 tbsp. dark brown sugar
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. cream or evaporated milk
juice of half of large lemon, about 1 1/2 tbsp.
1 small allspice berry, ground with mortar and pestle
1/4 c. slivered almonds, toasted if preferred for more depth and nuttier flavor profile
pinch of salt, optional
For the pumpkin:
Bring large pot of sea salted water to a boil.
Place halved and cleaned pumpkin in water, cut side up and fill cavity with some of the water with a spoon.
Gently continue to boil for about 5 minutes, then remove from heat and let stand covered, for about 15 minutes.
Remove from pot with and place cut side down in a colander, draining and cooling for about 10 minutes.
Use a fork to flake pumpkin meat into strands.
For the Sauce:
Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, bring all remaining ingredients, EXCEPT nuts, up to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring often.
Once liquid has reduced and thickened, remove from heat and stir in almonds.
Fold pumpkin into sauce until well coated.
Makes 4 servings.
Note: This sauce may also be used as a dessert topper!!!

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