I came up with this recipe for a New Year’s Eve party on December 31st 2019. My friend hosting the party is vegan and I wanted to create something savory and celebratory to kick-off 2020. Aww, those before Covid days. We were so hopeful! Well, even in the fray that was 2020, my friends and I couldn’t stop thinking about and making these toast, so that tells you they’re worth making. It took me awhile to bring the recipe to the blog, but alas, these “Pumpkin Pomegranate Party Toasts” are here just in time for the 2021 NYE celebrations and also fit nicely into the health snacks and breakfasts you might be craving in the new year.
The great thing about these pumpkin toasts is that they’re really a versatile anytime snack or meal. In the party-less days of 2020, I made dressed all kinds of breads with this tangy, creamy pumpkin tahini spread and toppings. Slices of sourdough, slabs ciabatta, toasted tortillas – they all worked as a great base to build everyday toasts. This is the more exciting, fancy cousin to avocado toasts. A bold statement, I know.
Since making this the first time, I learned of an amazing trick for making fried shallots in a microwave. It’s been a game changer! Instead of heating up a pan of oil and working frantically to remove the shallots before they burn in seemingly just a few seconds, you can slice shallots, put them in bowl with oil and let the microwave do the work. 5 minutes later, there you have them! This simple hack takes this recipe from “special treat ” recipe to a week day possibility.
Once you have all the elements prepped, you can assemble toasts in minutes. It’s one of my favorite breakfasts! Also, a great way to use up any leftover cans of pumpkin puree and pomegranate in season this time of year.
Why It Works
These toast are all about contrast – flavors, colors and textures. Together, you get something deeply flavorful and satisfying that’s not too heavy but substantial. It was important to have a fair amount of acid to counter the sweet, earthiness of the pumpkin.
The pumpkin puree is drained to remove some water and combined with tahini (sesame paste) and lemon juice for a creamy, bright base spread. The spread is great by itself, but why stop there? Pomegranate arils add a bright jewel-like sparkle along with a sweet tart crunch. Fresh dill brings a vibrant green punch and herby goodness that pairs well with the tahini. Of course, fried shallots add so much savory flavor and a richness. Lastly, a sprinkle of sea salt on the top makes everything pop.
The bread gets drizzled with olive oil and toasted until it’s golden around the edges and the perfect canvas for the spread and toppings. I’ve tried baguette and sliced sourdough and imagine other sliced and sturdy white or multigrain breads would work well. You could also go the thin and crispy direction and use toasted lavash, tortillas or similar flatbreads.
Pomegranate Take Down
Trader Joe’s and other grocery stores sell pomegranate arils cleaned and ready to go. I often buy a whole pomegranate and process it myself. There are lots of new hacks for seeding pomegranate on Tik Tok and Youtube though I’ve yet to try them.
I find the cleanest way to remove the arils from a pomegranate is the slice it in half parallel to the stem and break open one half at a time with your hands in a bowl of water. I then scoop off the white pith that floats to the top and and any drain the seeds in a colander. It takes maybe 10 minutes, but your counters and clothes with remain unscathed. You can store the seeds in a napkin or paper towel within a sealable container. The paper towel soaks up excess moisture but prevents them from drying out. They last for nearly 2 weeks from me.
Make It Your Own
Once, I was feeling *wild* and used Thai green chilis in the place of dill. It was great. It you like spicy foods, consider adding a little fresh green chili or swapping it out for the dill. If you’re not a dill fan, thinly sliced cilantro would be a great alternative.
Not into frying shallots even in the microwave? Some Asian markets also sell crispy fried shallots ready to sprinkle and snack on till your heart is content. You could also use French’s Fried onions (yes, in the can) i as well to really make the most of Thanksgiving leftovers.
My friend, Lorena, added cumin and smoked paprika to the pumpkin spread which sounds tasty. Last time I made this, I stirred in a dollop of Calabrian chili paste for added heat. Feel free to play around with smoky, earthy or spicy seasonings here.
Here are some ideas for using any extra pumpkin spread. You can use it as a spread in a sandwich- ham would be great. Try it as a dip with sliced veggies, maybe with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of chili flakes? Roasting vegetables or chicken? You could warm the spread and serve it as a sauce.
Ok, not quick, but my favorite remix was when I used it as a filling for tortellini. I topped the pasta with browned butter and garnished with the shallots, pomegranate and dill. It was out of the world. I should try that again… If you try this recipe or come up with your own remixes, I’d love to see them. Leave a comment below or tag me on Instagram @theletsgosho
Pumpkin & Pomegranate Party Toast
No shade to avocado, but this may be the savory toast of toasts. It’s colorful, crunchy, creamy and fresh.
This is equally great as a party app made with baguette or for breakfast or lunch on sourdough bread. See the post for suggestions for substitution and modification.
- 1 15oz. can of pureed pumpkin (not sweetened)
- ⅓ cup tahini
- fine salt
- 1 baguette
- ½ cup pomegranate arils (½ a medium size pomegranate)
- 1 lemon
- 3-4 sprigs of dill
- 1 baguette (see top notes for other bread)
- 3 medium shallots
- 1/4 cup Oil plus more for toasting bread(EVOO, avocado, canola)
- flaky salt, such as Maldon (optional)
- can opener
- medium microwavable (glass is preferable)
- medium mixing bowl
- cutting board
- Chef’s knife or similar knife
- fine mesh strainer (see top notes)
- paper towels
- baking tray (for oven or toaster oven)
- butter knife
- Place the strainer over the mixing bowl and line it with paper towels. Scoop the pumpkin puree into the lined strainer and let it sit for at least 10 minutes. This step removes excess water.
- In the meantime, peel and slice the shallots into thin rings, approx. 1/8inch thick. Shallots can vary in size so aim for about 1 cup of sliced shallot. Separate the slices into individual rings with your hands and place the shallots in the microwavable bowl. Add 3-4 tablespoons of oil or enough to nearly cover the shallots.
- Line the plate with a paper towel. Microwave the shallots in oil for 2 minutes, then stir them with a fork making sure to move the shallots in the middle of the bowl to the sides. The center cooks faster. At this point you should be able to submerge them in the oil. Continue microwaving the shallots in 1 minute intervals and stirring with a fork until the shallots are just light brown. This may take 4 to 7 minutes. Remove the bowl from the microwave and stir the shallots until they are a golden brown. They will continue cooking outside of the microwave. To stop the cooking, use the fork to transfer the shallots to the lined plate. Sprinkle them with fine salt to taste. Microwave magic!
- Back to the pumpkin puree – you can discard the water that has drained into the bowl. Now, scoop the strained pumpkin into the now empty bowl. Stir in ⅓ cup tahini, 1 tsp of fine salt and the juice of a half a lemon. Once it’s well mixed, taste the mixture and adjust with more salt or lemon if needed. It should be flavorful enough to eat on its own.
- If you’re preparing a whole baguette or want to use your oven, preheat the oven to 400F. Otherwise, you can use a toaster oven. Drizzle olive oil onto baguette slices (cut about ½ inch thick) or sourdough slices. Toast the bread on a baking sheet in the oven for 8-10 minutes until the edges are just golden brown. 6.Spread each bread slice with a generous layer of the pumpkin spread. Top with a sprinkle of fried shallots then pomegranate arils. Next sprinkle on fronds of dill and top with a little flaky salt if you have it. Enjoy!
All of the individual components keep well, so you can make toasts for breakfast or anytime throughout the week. Store the pumpkin spread in a jar or sealable container in the fridge for up to a week. The pomegranate arils and dill can be wrapped in paper towel and placed inside of a bag or storage container in the fridge. Fried shallots will stay crisp in a storage container as well.