Pumpkin-Feta Muffins

Last week, I tweeted that the heirloom pumpkin I got from Greenling was just too cute to eat, and would therefore spend its time on earth as a fall decoration. Here’s the little cutie:

Well. You remember that Seinfeld episode when Newman was dieting, and during that same time Kramer decided to start sunbathing while spreading butter over his body, to increase his tan? And then a hungry Newman started picturing the butter-swathed, sizzling Kramer as a large, juicy turkey?

That’s kind of what happened with this pumpkin. I started picturing it in various dishes – baked in pies, pureed into pasta sauces, stuffed into ravioli. And so on. When I came across a recipe for pumpkin-feta muffins on 101 Cookbooks, I knew that the pumpkin’s life as a decoration was about to end.

The recipe originally hails from an Australian cookbook called Martha Goes Green, which I’m now dying to get my hands on. I made a few changes to suit my preferences and to use ingredients I had on hand. I was dreading peeling and dicing the pumpkin, but it turned out to peel easily and had a buttery texture when I cut into it, even uncooked. Instead of the sunflower seeds originally called for, I just used the salted, roasted seeds I pulled out of the pumpkin when I was processing it.

These little guys are divine. Serve warm, with a swipe of butter.

Pumpkin-Feta Muffins (adapted from 101 Cookbooks)

Cooking spray or butter (for greasing a 12-hole muffin pan)
2 cups cubed pumpkin (1/2 inch cubes)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch of arugula, chopped
2 tbsp chopped parsley
4 tbsp pumpkin seeds (or sunflower seed kernels)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3.5 oz (1/2 cup) cubed feta cheese (1/2 inch dice)
2 tsp whole-grain mustard
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
2 cups (9 oz) flour (1/2 all-purpose and 1/2 whole wheat)
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Use the butter or cooking spray to grease the muffin pan and set aside.

Sprinkle the olive oil and some salt and pepper over the pumpkin. Toss well and turn onto a baking sheet or roasting pan. Arrange in a single layer and bake for 15 – 25 minutes or until cooked through entirely. Set aside to cool.

Drizzle some olive oil over the pumpkin seeds and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread them onto a baking sheet and place in the oven when you put the pumpkin in. Roast for 15 minutes, until browned and crisp.

Transfer two-thirds of the squash to a large mixing bowl along with the arugula, parsley, pumpkin or sunflower seeds, Parmesan, two-thirds of the feta, and all of the mustard. Gently fold together. In a separate bowl beat the eggs and milk together and add to the pumpkin mixture. Add the flour and baking powder into the pumpkin mix, top with the salt and a generous dose of freshly ground black pepper and fold together just until the batter comes together, being careful not to overmix.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan, filling each hole 3/4 full, and topping each muffin with a bit of the remaining squash and feta. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops and sides of the muffins are golden, and the muffins have set up completely. Let cool for a couple minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack.

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