Lots of bold New Mexico flavor in a healthy, vegetarian posole! Vegetarian Pumpkin Posole combines Hatch green chile, posole, black beans, and roasted pumpkin in one warm and wonderful bowl of goodness! Garnish it with pepitas, avocado, lime, cilantro, and crema, and you won’t miss “the meat!” I promise.
I find myself fundamentally aligned with a vegetarian position in every way but one: however selectively, I eat meat.
~~ Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
I love vegetarian cooking! I enjoy the process of perusing fresh, seasonal ingredients, and discovering new ways to feature them. My cousin Jonny asked me a few weeks back to provide him with a new “cousin Tami” recipe. He had recently made the switch from vegetarian to vegan, and enjoys cooking. Avoiding dairy is difficult for this dairy-loving girl, so my task became a bit more of a challenge. Winter squash – butternut, acorn, spaghetti, pumpkin to name a few – are available in abundance this time of year. The Natural Grocer had some beautiful sugar pumpkins. I haven’t used pumpkin in savory preparations, so the thought of developing a vegan main dish using this ingredient was intriguing. I purchased a pumpkin that weighed about 4 pounds, and put on my “thinking cap.”
Jonny recently re-located from New York to his native California. I know he loves Mexican and southwest flavors, so that is the direction I headed with my pumpkin. I have a freezer full of Hatch green chile, and I keep posole and both canned and dried black beans on hand as well. I decided on a Vegetarian Pumpkin Posole.
I prefer the taste and texture of frozen posole (hominy) to canned. It is less starchy, and firmer to the bite. It requires 45-60 minutes to cook frozen posole, but the extra time is worth it. If pressed for time, you can make this recipe with canned black beans and hominy, and substitute commercially cubed butternut squash for the pumpkin. Start by placing your posole in a stock pot or dutch oven, and cover with water to 2″ above the level of the posole. Add a tablespoon of salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to keep the posole at a simmer while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
The most difficult part of this recipe is breaking down the pumpkin. It is quite similar to breaking down butternut squash. In fact, you can use butternut squash in place of the pumpkin if you wish. I sliced the pumpkin in half from top to bottom through the stem. I then scooped all the seeds and fiber from its center. Next, I cut into manageable wedges – about 8. I cut off any stem and blossom end. Using a sharp vegetable peeler, I removed all the skin. Lastly, I cubed the squash in pieces about 3/4″ in size. Once this step is done, the rest is pretty simple!
After the pumpkin is cubed, toss with a bit of olive oil, and spread out on a sheet pan. Roast until the edges begin to brown, and pieces are tender – about 20-30 minutes. Use good stock. I make vegetable stock, and it is loaded with flavor. You can find many good quality commercially prepared vegetable stocks as well.
Are you curious about my opening quote? I am a literature buff, and Barbara Kingsolver is one of my favorite authors. She and I share our food philosophy. When she wrote Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, she and her family had moved from the Tucson area to the family farm in the Appalachians. They relied on the farm and neighboring community for all of their food. She tells the story with grace and humor, and explains well the ecological importance of eating locally, and knowing where your food comes from. Her philosophy is my philosophy. I do enjoy meat, but I identify with the vegetarian lifestyle. One key to feeling satisfied with a vegetarian variation of a classic dish is to try to dissociate the classic, meat-based version of the dish from the vegetarian dish… look at it in a new way. My young adult kids were skeptical, given the fact that traditional New Mexican pork-laden posole is a favorite dish. I suggested they try to enjoy the flavors rather than focusing on the “missing” meat. Guess what? They all really liked it! Have you considered reducing your carbon footprint by incorporating occasional vegetarian meals into your diet? If you haven’t, this Vegetarian Pumpkin Posole might convince you!
Have you tried pumpkin in savory applications, or is it reserved for sweets? Or, is breaking down a fresh pumpkin way too much trouble? I’d love to hear your thoughts on fresh pumpkins!
More Pumpkin Recipes:
Vegetarian Pumpkin Posole
- 5 cups frozen posole (see notes)
- 1 tbsp. salt
- 1 small pumpkin stem, skin, seeds, and fiber removed and then cubed*
- 2 tablespoons olive oil divided use
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 tsp. minced garlic about 3 cloves
- 2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tbsp. Mexican oregano
- 8 cups good vegetable stock
- 4 cups black beans (see notes)
- 1 cup Hatch green chile diced, (see notes)
- salt and pepper to taste
- roasted and salted pepitas
- avocados sliced
- cilantro coarsely chopped
- white or green onion chopped
- lime wedges
- crema or Greek yogurt optional (NOT VEGAN)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees (350 on convection roast)
- Add posole to a large soup pot or dutch oven. Cover with water to 2" above the posole. Add salt, place pot on high heat until it boils. Reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer on low heat until posole is al dente (barely tender) - about 45-50 minutes. Drain, and set aside.
- While posole cooks, prepare squash. See the post for additional information. Cubes may range from 1/2-1" in size. Toss with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Spread out on a baking sheet. Roast until edges begin to brown and squash is tender but not soft. Set aside.
- In soup pot or dutch oven (the one used to boil posole is fine provided it is now empty and dry), add remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Add chopped onion and minced garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is transparent. Add ground cumin and Mexican oregano. Stir another minute or so until fragrant.
- Add vegetable stock to the pot, followed by posole, pumpkin (or other squash), black beans, and green chile. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover. Simmer 15 minutes to allow flavors to combine.
- Ladle posole into large soup bowls. Garnish as desired. Enjoy!
Pumpkin is a winter squash. You may substitute a different variety, or even sweet potatoes. Just cube and roast until edges become browned, and the pieces are tender.
I cook my posole in the pressure cooker whether it is frozen or dried. Both require about 30 minutes under pressure. I try to avoid using canned hominy, but if I do, I rinse it thoroughly before adding to remove starch. When I shot the current photos, I used a beautiful New Mexico dried blue corn posole. I love the earthy flavor and beautiful color!
Hatch green chile is commercially available in many markets. Frozen fresh chile is preferable to canned.
You want to add cooked beans to the posole. If you have the time, and/or the desire to use dried beans, you will need to soak them and then cook them until they are tender by your preferred method. I usually use my pressure cooker to cook large batches of dried beans. Canned beans work fine in this recipe.
Crema (Mexican sour cream) is NOT vegan, and is listed as OPTIONAL for this reason!) Greek yogurt is a good option, and adds protein...
Macronutrients (approximation from MyFitnessPal): 384 calories; 14 g protein; 77 g carbohydrates; 7 g fat. These figures do NOT include garnishes. The pepitas (seeds) will add a little protein, but they're relatively low in fat and calories.