Pumpkin Empanadas

Pumpkin season has arrived, as has the time for carving pumpkins for Halloween later this month. It’s also time to explore a variety of pumpkin dishes for the season, but first, a Halloween story:

It was a cold, dark and foggy night that Halloween. I was 7 years old and my friends and I were on a mission. We were trying to get to as many houses as possible before our 9 o’clock curfew. We had been on a roll all night. Our pillowcases were stuffed and we were closing in on the curfew when we made that last fateful decision. Every neighborhood has that one house you just don’t go to.

Well, we were feeling pretty good and were looking for that one last big payoff. I’m not even sure how we got up that hill without as much as a word of doubt between us, but there we were. The house looked pretty safe as we scanned it from side to side looking for something creepy to send us scurrying away. They had plenty of carved pumpkins, one in every window in fact, but they all had smiley faces carved out and there wasn’t even a skeleton on the door. We decided we would give the woman we always referred to as The Witch a chance. She answered the ring of the bell and pleasantly invited us in. We could see the huge bowl of assorted candy bars on the table ahead and we all tentatively made our way to it.

Suddenly, all the lights went out and that’s when we noticed the carved pumpkins. On the front, they might have had smiley faces. On the back, they all had various spooky faces with long sharp teeth and were about the scariest things we had ever seen. We all screamed and ran for the door, only to find it had been locked. We bolted for the kitchen and what we hoped would be the back door, but when we got there, there was, no lie, a huge pot of boiling water sitting on the stove. We freaked. We ran from room to room unable to find a way out. The only thing we saw, no matter what room we ran into or what direction we went, was her. How did she get to every room before us?

We finally found a window on the second floor that was slightly ajar and climbed out onto the roof and shimmied down a tree. We never looked back and didn’t realize poor little Joey wasn’t with us when we got home. The next day some man brought Joey to his house and said he found him wandering around carrying a carved pumpkin. Joey, to this day, has never uttered another word about that night. Every Halloween though, he goes out and gets a huge pumpkin to carve, always winning the contests with the scariest entry.

As for me I never ate another thing made from pumpkin until I tried these empanadas. This Halloween, if you are looking for a different type of pumpkin treat, try this recipe and enjoy, but remember, never go to the house on the hill.

Pumpkin Empanadas

2 C pumpkin, cleaned, cubed
1 to 2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 to 3 T maple syrup
1 to 2 T butter
1 t basil, chopped
1 t nutmeg
1 pinch cinnamon
Salt & pepper to taste
1 sheet rolled puff pastry dough
1 egg, well beaten

Steam pumpkin meat, strain and add the other ingredients to taste starting with half, and then and mash. Don’t add too much butter or maple or the mixture will be too thin.

Roll out dough and cut into 3- to 4-inch circles. Place spoon of filling on circle, fold in half, pinch edges with fork to seal. Brush with egg wash, sprinkle with a touch of sugar and bake at 350 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.