The fervor with which people rush to Starbucks to have their first Pumpkin Spice Latté of the season has become almost cliché; this year our neighborhood store launched it earlier than ever, and I observed customers actually sweating in the still-90 degree heat while they savored their first spicy sips. Even to a non-flavored coffee gal like myself, it’s easy to see why people are obsessed: there’s something about the combination of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves that is almost magical in its ability to embody autumn. Plus, they are kind of addictively sweet and admittedly taste really good. I decided to put an Austin-style spin on the craze by crafting a taco inspired by the same flavors, the main difference being that these actually include pumpkin in the ingredients list (Nope, your pumpkin spice latté does not contain any actual pumpkin. Sorry!) I roasted a sugar pie pumpkin with all kinds of cozy spices, then layered in a corn tortilla with addictively spicy chipotle sauce mixed with cooling yogurt, black beans, red onion, creamy avocado and crunchy pumpkin seeds. And a big zesty squeeze of lime, of course.
*photos by Kate LeSueur
The first time I cooked with a whole pumpkin, it took me a ridiculous amount of time to remove the tough outer peel with a vegetable peeler, so this time I set out to find a solution. And it was pretty simple: after zapping the whole pumpkin in the microwave for 7 minutes, the peel came off as easily as a potato’s, and the skin was softened just enough so that I could cut through the pumpkin without worrying about severing a finger.Feel free to make an extra large amount of the pumpkin, black bean, and red onion filling, since it keeps great in the fridge and can be gently rewarmed on the stove before serving.Since good tortillas are key to any great taco, buy them as fresh as possible (same day preferred) and eat them before refrigerating. If you are taking tortillas out of the refrigerator, then for goodness sake, warm them up! I turn my oven on the lowest setting, then wrap tortillas in a towel and allow to warm through. If you like more of a charred tortilla flavor, turn your stove on highest heat, then use tongs to gently lay each tortilla directly on the burner for a few seconds per side.*photos by Kate LeSueur
- 1 sugar pie pumpkin
- 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
- 1 cup yogurt
- 1 chipotle chili in adobo (canned), plus 1 teaspoon of adobo sauce
- 1 clove garlic
- kosher salt, to taste
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 12 corn tortillas, warmed
- 2 avocados, sliced into wedges
- 1/2 cup roasted, shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- 1 cup fresh cilantro, stems removed and roughly chopped
- 2 limes, cut into wedges
- coarse sea salt, to taste
- Microwave pumpkin on high for 7 minutes. Let stand until cool enough to handle, then use a vegetable peeler to remove tough outer skin. Halve pumpkin and remove seeds. Reserve half of pumpkin for another use, and chop the other half into 1″ cubes.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On a foil lined baking sheet, toss cubed pumpkin with 1 1/2 tablespoons oil, honey, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and cardamom. Roast for about 20 minutes, until pumpkin is soft throughout and turning golden brown on the edges. Toss once halfway through cooking.
- Meanwhile, make the chipotle sauce by combining yogurt, chipotle, adobo sauce, garlic, and a pinch of salt in a blender. Blend until smooth, then transfer sauce to a bowl for serving.
- In a large skillet, heat remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat, then sauté red onion just until it begins to soften, 3 – 4 minutes. Add black beans and warm through, then add pumpkin. Mix everything together, then add a pinch of kosher salt to taste.
- In each warmed tortilla, spread about 2 teaspoons of chipotle sauce down the center. Top with 1/4 cup pumpkin mixture, one or two avocado wedges, a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds and cilantro, and a squeeze of lime. Eat!