Shane Chartrand’s recipes for Warm Pumpkin Salad and Wine Poached Pears

By / Premium Content / December 19th, 2021 / Like

Warm Pumpkin Salad with Seared Cucumber and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds


Pumpkins and other squash are important crops in Indigenous cooking. The flesh is filling and full of carbohydrates. The seeds are chock full of protein and rich in micronutrients and minerals.

This recipe was created on the fly in the kitchen one day when a pumpkin from Jennifer’s mom, Barb Cockrall, arrived as a gift. Warm pumpkin salad is now a go-to fall vegetable dish.


1 medium pumpkin (about 8 lbs / 3.5 kg)

1/4 cup / 60 mL raw shelled pumpkin seeds, if you prefer to use pre-shelled seeds instead of shelling them manually (see Step 3)

1 English cucumber, cut into 1/4-inch / 0.5-cm rounds

2 1/2  tbsp / 37 mL cold-pressed canola oil, extra virgin olive oil, or pumpkin seed oil

1 tsp / 5 mL finely minced garlic

1 tsp / 5 mL finely minced shallot

 4 tbsp / 45 mL to 6 tbsp / 90 mL good-quality organic honey, to taste

Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 tsp / 2.5 mL salt

1/2 tsp / 2.5 mL freshly ground black pepper

1/2  bunch fresh curly parsley, roughly chopped


1. Preheat the oven to 350 F / 180 C.

2. Place the pumpkin (whole) on a baking sheet and cook in the preheated oven until soft and slightly caramelized, 45 minutes to 1 hour (the pumpkin should start to sag on top and the flesh under the rind will feel soft to the touch). Remove the pan from the heat and set aside until the pumpkin is cool enough to handle. Using your hands, peel the rind away from the flesh. Discard the strings from the centre but reserve the seeds. Cut the flesh into 3/4-inch / 2-cm cubes (you should end up with about 4 cups / 1 L).

3. If using whole seeds, rinse them in a colander under cool running water, using your fingers to separate them from the strings. Discard the strings and any lingering pumpkin flesh, and spread the seeds out on a paper towel to dry completely. When dry, hold a seed between the thumb and index finger, using both hands, and bend it back and forth. Then pinch it along its side edges until it splits open with your fingers, repeating this process with the rest of the seeds. It’s time-consuming so feel free to just use pre-shelled raw pumpkin seeds.

4. In a small, dry skillet over medium heat, toast the pumpkin seeds until they turn golden, 3 to 5 minutes (they’ll pop slightly when fully toasted). Transfer the toasted seeds to a plate immediately. In the same dry skillet, cook the cucumber slices until golden brown around the edges and in the middle, about 5 minutes per side. Set aside.

5. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, garlic, shallot, honey, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Add the warm pumpkin cubes and toss until well coated. Salt to taste.

6. Serve on a large plate or family-style platter. Sprinkle with about  1/2 cup / 125 mL of the toasted pumpkin seeds and the chopped parsley, and top with the warm cucumber slices.

Excerpted from tawâw: Progressive Indigenous Cuisine by Shane M. Chartrand with Jennifer Cockrall-King. Copyright © 2019 Shane Mederic Chartrand and Jennifer Cockrall-King. Reproduced with permission from House of Anansi Press Inc., Toronto. All rights reserved.

Wine-Poached Okanagan Pears With Vanilla Mascarpone Filling


I don’t use a lot of wine in my cooking, but British Columbia’s hot and dry Okanagan Valley is home to some very good Indigenous-owned and -operated wineries and it would be a shame not to celebrate that. I also have family in the Shuswap area of the East Kootenays in British Columbia, and family vacations were all about eating up as much tree fruit as we could stomach. This recipe is intended to bring back warm summer memories just when you need it most: in the cold, dark days of winter. The mascarpone is a lovely surprise in the centre.

If you can find it, use chestnut blossom honey in this recipe — chestnut is a classic winter solstice and Christmas flavour.



6 firm pears (e.g., Bosc or Anjou)

1 x 25 oz / 750 mL bottle sweet white wine (ideally a Riesling, Gewurztraminer,

or Ehrenfelser)

2 cups / 500 mL water

½ cup / 125 mL pure maple syrup

1/3 cup / 80 mL good-quality organic honey

¼ cup / 60 mL white vinegar

2 tbsp / 30 mL dried juniper berries

2 x 3-inch / 7.5-cm cinnamon sticks


1 cup / 250 mL mascarpone cheese

2 tsp / 10 mL granulated sugar

1 tsp / 5 mL pure vanilla extract


½ cup / 125 mL granulated sugar

¼ cup / 60 mL ground cinnamon


1. Poach the pears: Using a sharp paring knife, peel the pears and give the bottoms a trim so they sit flat in a casserole or stock pot big enough to accommodate them without too much extra space. Add the wine, water, maple syrup, honey, vinegar, juniper berries, and cinnamon sticks. Add a bit more water, if necessary, so that the liquid comes up to the top of the pears; it doesn’t need to cover the stems. Place the pan over medium heat and cook at a bare simmer for about 20 minutes for Anjou pears or 30 or more minutes for Bosc pears, until soft. The traditional technique is

to cut a piece of parchment in a round shape so that it can sit just on top of the pears as they simmer to keep them from browning and to help them evenly poach. Or you can simply baste the pears with the poaching liquid as they simmer.

2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pears to a bowl and set aside. Bring the poaching liquid in the pan to a boil and cook until the volume is reduced by a third and it reaches the consistency of syrup.

3. Meanwhile, using a melon baller or a sharp paring knife, remove the lower part of the core and the seeds by making a cavity in the bottom of the pear.

4. Place the cored pears in a container with a tight-fitting lid. Pour the syrup gently over the pears, cover, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.

5. When ready to serve, remove the pears from the liquid and set them on a plate to dry off slightly.

6. Make the vanilla mascarpone filling: Meanwhile, combine the cheese, sugar, and vanilla in a bowl and stir until well blended. Spoon just enough of the mixture into the hollowed core of each pear to fill the space.

7. Make the cinnamon dust: Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a shallow dish. Carefully roll the filled pears in the cinnamon sugar until well coated.

8. Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature.

Excerpted from tawâw: Progressive Indigenous Cuisine by Shane M. Chartrand with Jennifer Cockrall-King. Copyright © 2019 Shane Mederic Chartrand and Jennifer Cockrall-King. Reproduced with permission from House of Anansi Press Inc., Toronto. All rights reserved.


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