Harvest Pumpkin Soup

harvest pumpkin soup | whiskandmuddler.com

It’s pumpkin time! Not only because Halloween is nipping at our heels but also because all the Fall (and soon to be holiday- gulp!) baked goods, savory casseroles and side dishes featuring the mighty pumpkin are making their way to center stage now and over the coming weeks. And to celebrate its versatility and comfort-food qualities, I whipped up the simplest soup you can imagine to share as a contributor post for the oh-so talented and lovely Cooking With Ruthie food blog. This Harvest Pumpkin Soup couldn’t be easier to make. Just two ingredients, a few spices and you’re done. Click on over to get the recipe for this do-ahead appetizer (or meal) that will feed a crowd at any family gathering and warm their tummies on the coldest of autumn days.

The Perfect Match: Spring Petite Pea Tapenade with Grilled Haloumi

Nothing says spring like beautiful petite peas.
oetite spring peas
petite spring peas
I snap them up whenever I see them fresh in the stores and always have a bag of them in my freezer. And as luck would have it, I came across some nice looking Haloumi too. If you’re not familiar with this firm cheese (sometimes spelled Hallumi), I’d have to describe it as a cross between a mozzarella (in texture) and a feta (in salty tang). Classically served grilled, haloumi is one of the few cheeses I know of that will hold up over heat. It softens slightly, and gets all bubbly around the edges- yum!  Its origin is in Cyprus, but you can get locally-made haloumi fairly easily nowadays. I’ll be honest though; it’s not always cheap to buy-  usually upwards of $10-12 a wedge (gulp!) in the fancier markets for the imported brands. But I found one at Trader Joe’s for less than half the price. Heck, you can even make it at home (I’m totally going to try Martyna/The Wholesome Cook’s recipe one day soon). So with petite peas and haloumi in my basket, I decided to make one of my favorite dishes. This Spring Petite Pea Tapenade with Grilled Haloumi makes a delicious light lunch or dinner. You could also cut the haloumi into bite-size pieces before grilling and turn this into a stellar party appetizer. The bright, clean flavors of the peas, mint, chives, lemon zest and lemon-infused olive oil against the saltiness of the cheese, is indeed, a Perfect Match. Both the tapenade and cheese only take a few minutes each to prepare, so this can be whipped up in no time!
petite peas, mint, chives, lemon oil, haloumihaloumi
I like the tapenade to have texture to it, but you can absolutely purée it until completely smooth.  The edamame in this spread adds some extra protein too. When you’re grilling the haloumi, be sure to cook over medium-low heat with no oil and watch it closely. It will brown quickly (like mine did– a tad too much perhaps?), so keep an eye on it. I used a cast iron pan (as it was raining so didn’t want to fire up the grill) and it worked just fine.

spring petite pea tapinade
grilled haloumi
spring petite pea tapinade with grilled haloumi

Spring Petite Pea Tapenade with Grilled Haloumi
printable version

Spring Petite Pea Tapenade
(yields 3/4 cup)

1/2 cup spring petite peas, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup edamame, cooked and shelled
3-4 sprigs of fresh mint
fresh chives, 1/4 of a small bunch
2 tablespoons lemon-infused olive oil (I like the Limonato from Olive Press )
1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil (optional)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
pinch of Citrus Salt, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small food processor. Pulse until course texture is achieved, or continue to pulse if a smooth consistency is desired. If mixture is too dry, add plain extra virgin olive oil to loosen it up  If you’re using frozen peas, the mixture will be more dry as compared to using fresh peas.

Grilled Haloumi
(yields 2 servings)

1 Haloumi wedge, cut horizontally into four pieces
pinch of pepper, to taste

Heat a grill (or cast iron pan) to medium-low heat, no oil. Season cheese and grill until crust forms and cheese is golden brown and bubbly. Serve warm with Petite Pea Tapenade and seasonal vegetables (pictured with steamed baby bok choy). Here’s another great haloumi recipe to try – Haloumi & Watermelon Balsamic Bites.
petite pea tapinade with grilled haloumi
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Big Bean, Little Bean

One of my most favorite legumes is fava beans (a.k.a broad beans), and I just can’t get enough of these guys. Sautéed with garlic & olive oil or whizzed up into a hummus, they’re super tasty anyway you cook them. I happened to find some first-crops this past weekend, so this meant I could try my hand at a dish I had recently enjoyed at a new restaurant. The favas I picked up were not necessarily stunners on the outside, but on the inside– pristine, firm beans and good size for their pods. I’m growing favas in my garden this year (so excited!) which have sprouted to about 8 inches tall already. It will be a long while yet before they mature, but these local favas will tide me over just fine.
edamame & fava beans

Another favorite is edamame or soybeans. These little beans are packed with protein and are such a great snack to munch on. Throw on a little Citrus Salt, and there you go. Quick food that’s good for you. So when the menu featured a dish with both of these beans together, along with crispy pancetta tossed with a hint of lemon zest….well, no-brainer there. And it was amazing. The simplest of ingredients cooked to perfection…in pancetta drippings no less–TDF! This combination of flavors is satisfying and very moreish. Not going to lie, there may have been some finger-dipping into the bottom of the bowl going on before the bread arrived…..sshh, don’t tell anyone ;>). Here’s my attempt to recreate the recipe so you all can enjoy these bosom bean buddies any time the mood strikes.

fava beans and edamame
You can buy frozen fava beans, but when you can get fresh–there’s nothing like it. For those who have not cooked fresh favas before, there’s a little work involved to reach the prized creamy bean inside. None of the steps are hard, and the effort is well worth it. First, you’ll need to remove the large bean from the outer pod. Simply run your thumb down the length of the pod to spread it open. The beans can be pushed out with your fingers. Then put the beans into a large pot of boiling & salted water for about 30-45 seconds, or until all the beans have floated to the top. Drain the beans under cold water and allow to cool slightly before handling them. To remove the bean’s outer skin, simply pinch open the top of the outer layer and then squeeze the soft bean out with your thumb & fingers. It should just pop right out.

Edamame, Fava Bean & Crispy Pancetta Side
yields 2 servings | printable version

1/2 pound pancetta, thick cut piece
1/2 cup cooked & shelled edamame beans
1/2 cup cooked & shelled fava beans
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1-2 tablespoons lemon-infused olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Start by dicing the pancetta into small pieces. Cook in a medium-size pan on low-medium heat to slowly render as much fat as possible, and so as not to burn the pancetta. Once they are golden and crispy, remove the pancetta pieces and set aside on a paper towel. Keep all the drippings in the pan and move to low heat. Shell the fava beans from the pod, boil in salted water, and shell again to get the inner bean. Add them to a bowl and mash with a fork until fairly smooth in texture. A potato masher works great here. Add in a few drops of lemon olive oil to keep the mash moist. Salt & pepper to taste. Add the fava bean mash back to the heated pan and warm through in the pancetta drippings. Next, add in the edamame beans, crispy pancetta, lemon zest and remaining lemon olive oil. The final mixture should be well-coated and not dry. Add more plain extra-virgin olive oil if you need to. Adjust salt & pepper to taste. Serve warm with a piece of crunchy bread to soak up all the deliciousness at the bottom of the bowl.
edamame & fava beans

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