Cooking Together

‘Cooking Together’: Savory Pumpkin Dish with Garnets and Red Potatoes


by Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff 

In the San Francisco Bay Area, where the seasonal changes are not as pronounced as in other parts of the country, pumpkins are a sure sign of autumn. Summer stone fruits are replaced by hard squashes and gourds, like pumpkins. By offering us vegetables that are loaded with vitamin A for eyesight, and other nutrients to support our immune system, mother nature is preparing us for cooler temperatures and reduced daylight. 

Pumpkins and other orange vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, are abundant with a variety of nutrients, such as vitamins A, C, E and K, and minerals, including potassium and iron. 

Artwork by Serena Sacharoff.

Pumpkins are also a good source of dietary fiber. One cup of cooked pumpkin contains 2 grams of protein, 15,000 IU of vitamin A, 12 mg of vitamin C, 564 mg of potassium, .9 mg of iron and 3 grams of fiber, while giving only 49 calories.   Sweet potatoes are also filled with vitamins A and C, and potassium.

Purchasing organic pumpkins supports sustainable agriculture. So, buy a pumpkin that is organic, even if you are getting it for a jack-o-lantern. Commercial pumpkins are sprayed with chemicals which affect the soil, water and other crops (including organic). An organic jack-o-lantern pumpkin can be used for cooking, after the evening is over. 

This is a great dish to make on the stove top during holidays when the oven is busy baking other dishes. This simple dish can completement more complicated items. 

½ small pumpkin, or a part of a big pumpkin, to obtain 2 cups when cut into chunks

1 medium garnet (a type of yam), peeled and cut lengthwise into 4 pieces (2 cups cut into chunks)

1 small red (or yellow) potato, peeled and cut into 4 pieces (to get 1 cup chunks) 

2 tablespoons of butter or oil (any kind) 

½ cup or more of water 

¼ teaspoon each of cinnamon and cardamom powder 

1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder

½ teaspoon salt or to taste

1 tablespoon of sugar, honey or maple syrup (optional) 

3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice

Chopped parsley, cilantro or mint for garnish

First, cut the pumpkin into two halves horizontally, using a serrated knife. Cut off the top knob. Next, using a small knife, remove seeds and fibers from both halves. You may need to dig into the squash to get all seeds out, but some fibers can remain on the flesh.  (If using organic jack-o-lantern pumpkin for this recipe, make sure to scoop out the candle wax.)  Clean the inside of pumpkin halves by rinsing with hot water. 

Use a wide saucepan or a wok that can accommodate a large vegetable steamer basket.  Pour a cup of water in the saucepan or the wok. Place the pumpkin halves onto the steamer basket with cut side down. Cover and steam the pumpkin until the pulp is cooked but still firm and not too mushy as we are going to cut the flesh into chunks for this dish. 

Depending on the age of the pumpkin, a small pumpkin can take up to 15 minutes or longer to cook. Allow the cooked pumpkin to cool. Now you can easily peel it, using a small knife.  Cut the peeled pumpkin into bite-sized chunks.  You will need 2 cups of chunks for this recipe. (The rest can be used for a soup or other dishes).  Set them aside.

Next, peel then cut the garnets and potatoes into quarters. Then, using the same steamer apparatus, place the garnets and potato pieces onto the basket. Add more water in the saucepan or wok. Cover and steam the vegetables for 5 to 7 minutes so that they are almost cooked and still firm. Allow them to cool. Then cut the garnets and potatoes pieces into bite size chunks. Set the chunks aside. 

Next, heat the butter or oil and add the pumpkin chunks and stir fry gently for a minute. Add ½ cup water and cook covered for 2 to 3 minutes. Then add rest of the vegetables, powder spices, salt, the optional sweetener and lemon or lime juice. Cook covered for 4 minutes over a medium low heat, checking to see if all of the vegetables are cooked and if they need more water. When the vegetables are done, they will have a golden glaze. Touch to feel that they are cooked but still retain their firmness. Taste to adjust flavors. Garnish with parsley, mint or cilantro and serve.  

Photo by Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff.

This dish can accompany another dish that has a sauce. Also, it can be served by itself with a pasta dish, rice or bread for a quick supper or a lunch. 

Makes four to five servings 

Recipe copyrights, 20222 © by Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff.  If you have any questions or comments regarding recipes, you can respond at the end of the column. Or inquire by emailing Shanta at  A long time Sunset District resident, Shanta is the author of “Cooking Together” and “Flavors of India,” both available at Other Avenues Food Co-op, Green Apple Book Store, Rainbow Grocery Co-op and at local bookstores. Shanta writes recipes and articles on food and teaches cooking classes. She gives food demonstrations at public places. Look for her free and open to the public events in SF Public libraries’ newsletter or website. On Nov.5 and Nov. 19th, 2022, Shanta will demonstrate how to make Chutneys at Sunset and Park branches of SFPL.  

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