La Estrella Pumpkin with Dates and Ricotta Salata

Photo by Cassidy Hurt

The sweetness of the dried fruit, creaminess of roasted pumpkin and saltiness of the ricotta salata cheese blend beautifully with the gentle zip of the vinaigrette. This dish has a few steps but is worth the effort. It will be the star of your Thanksgiving table.

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4 – 6 servings (or more if part of a large Thanksgiving spread)

  • 1 par-cooked pumpkin, cut into about 1” thick wedges (recipe follows)
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons pumpkin spice
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 6 ounces Ricotta Salata, very small dice
  • 1 cup spiced pumpkin seeds, crushed (recipe follows)
  • 6 ounces dates, pitted, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup lemon vinaigrette (recipe follows)
  • 2 cups fall squash romesco (optional but pictured – recipe follows)
  • Pumpkin
  • 1 smal La Estrella pumpkin (could also use other varieties of heirloom pumpkins, butternut squash, other winter squashes) – peeled and halved
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, slivered
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin spice (recipe follows)
  • 6 – 8 sprigs of thyme
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Pumpkin Spice
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon chile powder
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seed, ground
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed, ground
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • Spiced Pumpkin Seeds
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1½ tablespoon chile powder
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Lemon Vinaigrette
  • ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ⅔ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon parsley, minced
  • 1 teaspoon tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon chervil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Winter Squash Romesco
  • 1 small sized winter squash or pumpkin
  • 1 yellow onion, slivered
  • 4 cloves garlic, slivered
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • Pinch of chili flake
  • 6 – 8 sprigs of oregano, stripped
  • 4 ounces toasted almonds
  • ⅓ cup sherry vinegar
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  1. Preheat grill or set broiler on high
  2. Drizzle pumpkin with just enough olive oil to coat
  3. Season with salt, pepper and pumpkin spice
  4. Char on grill or under broiler until pumpkin begins to caramelize.
  5. Meanwhile, combine Ricotta Salata, pumpkin seeds, dates and lemon vinaigrette in bowl to make relish.
  6. Place romesco in thin layer on bottom of large serving dish, and arrange pumpkin wedges on top.
  7. Drizzle a good bit of the relish on top of each piece of pumpkin


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Peel pumpkin. Cut in half and scoop out seeds.
  3. Place pumpkin in bowl and add oil, garlic, thyme and distribute pumpkin spice
  4. Season with salt and cracked pepper
  5. Place in large ovenproof pan, cut side up, and cover with foil
  6. Bake until tender. Time will vary greatly depending on moisture level. A fork should pierce and be removed easily.
  7. Can be made couple days in advance and stored in refrigerator.

 Pumpkin Spice

  1. Combine all ingredients. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place pumpkin seeds on small pan, and bake 7 minutes.
  3. Remove from oven, and place in bowl.
  4. Toss with remaining ingredients and put back on pan in oven for 5 more minutes
  5. Cool, then crush slightly (a small food processor works well)
  6. Store in an airtight container for up to a month

Lemon Vinaigrette

  1. Combine lemon juice, shallot, garlic, salt and pepper
  2. Let stand for 5 minutes
  3. Add olive oil and herbs

Winter Squash Romesco

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Peel squash and cut into 1-2” chunks
  3. Roast, covered for about 45 minutes.
  4. Once squash is nearly tender, uncover and add onion, garlic, spices and oregano and continue to bake until pumpkin is very tender and onion and garlic are a little charred.
  5. Transfer to a blender or food processor, and add almonds. Add sherry vinegar and purée until smooth.
  6. Slowly add olive oil then taste and adjust seasoning.
  7. Serve at room temperature.
  • From Chef Kevin Johnson of The Grocery in Charleston, South Carolina

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