Curried Cauliflower w/ Cecci, and Tomato Pumpkin Sauce

UPDATED: FEBRUARY 2014

The use of pumpkin is not limited to baked goods or breakfast meals.  I find the paring of vegetables, tomatoes and pumpkin to be a natural fit.  Sometime ago I made a Cauliflower, Chick Pea and Pumpkin Pesto dish that was extremely satisfying and vaguely Indian in flavor.  This time around I've made low-fat full-on Indian-inspired vegetarian/vegan side dish.  Pumpkin seeds add a bit of texture contrast to the dish.  You can substitute almonds or cashews, but using the pumpkin seeds keeps the "theme" alive.  To toast shelled pumpkin seeds - I use a microwave safe plate, microwaving them for 45 seconds to 1 minute, or just until they begin to smell nutty and fragrant.  To add in even more vegetables and make the dish even more interesting, you can also add in fresh or frozen spinach.  It may be easier to use frozen chopped spinach - add it in after the dish is almost done, and cook for an additional 10 minutes to thaw the spinach. Stir to incorporate and top with the pumpkin seeds or chopped toasted nuts.

Curried Cauliflower with Chick Peas, Tomato and Pumpkin Ingredients:
  • 1 Large Head Cauliflower - cut into small florets
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil, Canola or Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Small Onion (about 1 cup) - small dice
  • 3 Garlic Cloves - minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 Can Chick Peas/Garbanzo/Ceci Beans (14-16 ounces) - drained and rinsed
  • 2 Heaping Tablespoons Curry Powder - or more to taste
  • 2 Cups Tomato Sauce (or a 14-16 ounce can)
  • 1 Cup Pumpkin Puree
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper - to taste
  • 1 Cup Frozen Chopped Spinach - optional
  • 1/4 Cup Pumpkin Seeds - toasted, optional or use nuts of choice
Directions:
  1. Cook or steam the cauliflower florets in a large saute pan with about 2/3 cup water, until the cauliflower is fork tender and the water has evaporated, about 15 minutes.  When the cauliflower is cooked through, turn the heat to medium and add the oil to the pan and saute the florets until they begin to take on some color, 5 minutes.  Alternatively, you can roast the cauliflower florets until they are caramelized - 45 to 60 minutes. Continue on with the recipe as directed.
  2. Add the diced onion and sauté for 5 minutes then add in the minced garlic to the pan and sauté  another minute.  Add in the curry powder and saute for 30 seconds, to bloom the curry powder flavor.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together the tomato sauce and the pumpkin puree, set aside.
  4. Add the chick peas to the saute pan and cook with the cauliflower florets until the chick peas are warmed through, about 2 minutes.
  5. Pour the tomato sauce mixture into the saute pan and stir to combine with the cauliflower and chick peas.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Heat the mixture just until it begins to bubble/boil, reduce and simmer for 10 minutes.  If using the chopped frozen spinach, add it in now and cook through to thaw and incorporate. When the spinach is cooked, remove from heat.  Top with the toasted pumpkin seeds and serve hot immediately.
  6. Serves 4-6 as a side dish.  Serve over couscous or brown rice.

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