Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Sautéed Pumpkin with Garlic and Mint #HalloweenRecipe by Leslie Karst


With Halloween only a few days away, many of us likely are in possession of at least one pumpkin. But do you ever cook with them after the holiday is done? Pumpkins are surprisingly delicious--a bit like butternut squash, but a little sweeter. 

So if your carved jack o' lantern isn't moldy by the time Halloween is over, or if you choose to leave one of the squash uncarved, here's an easy and tasty recipe I got years ago when I was on the board of my local Slow Food chapter. The dish has a sort of Thai flavor, due to the mint, vinegar and sugar. And if you added some tofu or meat to the mix, it would make a great one-course meal. The salad is best served at room temperature.

Sautéed Pumpkin with Garlic and Mint



(serves 4


2 pounds pumpkin 

½ cup olive oil

5-6 cloves garlic

½ cup white vinegar 

½ cup white sugar 

pinch ground cinnamon

¼ cup fresh mint 

salt and pepper




Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out what my family calls the “pyuck” (i.e., the seeds and membrane). This recipe calls for two pounds of pumpkin, which was about half of the small one I had. 

Peel the pumpkin (I cut it like a melon, and used a knife), 

and then chop it into ½ inch strips. Next, peel and thinly slice five or six cloves of garlic: 

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy skillet, and add a third of the pumpkin to the hot oil. 

Sauté it until tender and browned on both sides, and then remove it with a slotted spoon to a serving dish. Cook the rest of the pumpkin the same way in batches, till it's all sautéed. (I had to do mine in three separate batches, so as not to crowd the pan.) 

  If there isn’t any oil left in the pan when you’re done, add another couple tablespoons to the pan and heat it till shimmering. Then pour in ½ cup of white vinegar. (Be careful not to let the hot oil spatter on you when you pour it in!)

Then add the ½ cup of white sugar, 

the sliced garlic, and a pinch of cinnamon, and stir it all together.

Boil this mixture for several minutes, 

until it reduces and thickens: 

While the sauce is reducing, coarsely chop about a ¼ cup of fresh mint. 

Sprinkle the mint on the fried pumpkin, and then pour the reduced sauce on top: 

Season it with salt and pepper, and garnish with sprigs of mint: 


🍊 🌿 🍋

The daughter of a law professor and a potter, Leslie Karst learned early, during family dinner conversations, the value of both careful analysis and the arts—ideal ingredients for a mystery story. Putting this early education to good use, she now writes the Lefty Award-nominated Sally Solari Mysteries, a culinary series set in Santa Cruz, California. 
An ex-lawyer like her sleuth, Leslie also has degrees in English literature and the culinary arts. She and her wife and their Jack Russell mix split their time between Santa Cruz and Hilo, Hawai‘i.


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Praise for Leslie's most recent Sally Solari mystery, the Lefty Award-nominated MURDER FROM SCRATCH:
“Karst seasons her writing with an accurate insider’s view of restaurant operation, as well as a tenderness in the way she treats family, death and Sally’s reactions to Evelyn’s blindness.”

Ellery Queen Magazine (featured pick)

All four Sally Solari Mysteries are available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Bookshop.




  1. What a great way to use a pumpkin, Leslie. This sounds delicious.

    Last weekend we went out for a rare dinner in a restaurant, and had the special: shepherd's pie baked in half a pumpkin. It was absolutely fabulous. I'm going to have to figure out how to make it myself, because with a bit larger pumpkin it could feed four easily.

    1. I love shepherd's pie, and that sounds simply divine! What a great idea!

    2. Karen, I'm curious. Was the shepherds pie baked in the pumpkin with the mashed potatoes on top? Was it minced lamb? (If it was minced beef it was technically a cottage pie.)

    3. It was beef, and yes, mashed potatoes on top, with peas, onions and carrots inside.

      I was disappointed that it wasn't lamb, but it was really good.

  2. I'm rolling this around in my (mental) mouth, thinking about the flavors.
    Fun idea.

  3. Replies
    1. So glad, Mary Jane! I was thrilled to discover it, myself.