It’s Fall, which means it’s the season of Pumpkin-infused dining! Pumpkin is such an awesome ingredient to work with – you can make sweet dishes, you can make savory dishes, you can even just buy pumpkin pie filling and eat it straight from the can. If that’s your thing. We won’t judge you.
We recently found ourselves with an invitation to a pumpkin beer tasting, where the requirements for attendance were to bring a pumpkin beer or a pumpkin-based dish. We elected for the latter. We hang with a crowd that loves food, wine and beer, so suffice it to say that this was not our first pumpkin themed party. What we learned from the past pumpkin gatherings was that the dessert options are plentiful, the savory appetizer options are few. We feel fairly confident saying that if you attend a similar event, this will likely be the case for you too. So make everyone’s day and bring a savory pumpkin-based appetizer instead – a spicy sausage and pumpkin wonton cup!
So how excited were people about a savory option at the gathering of all things pumpkin? Let’s just say that when the tray of 24 wonton cups left the kitchen, that tray returned empty in less than 2 minutes. That’s some serious satisfaction. The host who carried the tray around said, “Well that half of the room just devoured those. I’ll take the next batch to the other side first”. Sadly, that was all we brought! Lesson learned. These things will go fast. So take the number you think you need for the gathering and double it. You’ll be glad you did and so will your fellow party attendees.
What makes these little buggers so delicious? We have to credit the combination of the sausage spice coupled with the subtle deliciousness of the pumpkin. Pumpkin on its own is somewhat underwhelming. You need to add nutmeg, cinnamon, or hot spices (like sausage spice) to draw out its subtleties. What the combination with spicy sausage proves is that you shouldn’t feel restrained to baking spice. Add some red pepper flakes, chili powder, or feeling adventurous? Maybe some ghost chili powder. The combination with the pumpkin is wonderful. Get creative is all we can say here. We’re definitely looking forward to taking this recipe and amping up the spice a notch or two.
Wine Pairing suggestions
While in this instance the theme of the gathering that inspired the creation of the spicy sausage and pumpkin wonton cups was purely pumpkin, you should in no way feel limited to only consuming these with pumpkin beer. Let’s explore some wine-pairing ideas.
Gewurztraminer and Riesling
Gewurztraminer and Riesling are two great varietals for pairing with spicy dishes. Especially Thai or Indian cuisine.
The acidity found in many Rieslings and Gewurztraminers is high enough to stand up to spice, while the fruit notes provide a perfect compliment to the heat. The trick with both of these wines, however, is making sure you don’t select one that has too much fruit and not enough acid. In many instances, especially with Riesling, what you’ll find is lots of fruit, and a lack of a backbone of acid. When selecting a bottle, make sure to let your sommelier or wine shop manager know that you are looking for a good Gewurztraminer or Riesling to pair with a spicy dish. They should be able to point you towards some good options for good acid and good fruit.
- 16oz - Jimmy Dean Spicy Sausage (yep that stuff in a plastic roll)
- 8oz - 100% Pure Pumpkin (1/2 of a 16oz can), typically found in the pie filling part of the store
- 24 Wonton Wrappers, typically found in the produce section by the tofu
- 3oz - Shredded Parmesan
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Place wonton wrappers in a mini-cupcake (or muffin) tin. Press the bottoms down to form the shape of a cup. Spray tin with vegetable oil to keep them from sticking.
- Sprinkle a tiny pinch of salt in each wonton cup.
- Place the wonton-filled cupcake tin in the oven and bake until wonton cups are light golden brown in color. This should take 7-9 minutes.
- When the wontons are done cooking transfer them to a standard baking sheet.
- In a skillet, saute the spicy sausage until cooked through (no pink color remains) on medium-high heat.
- Drain any excess grease that remains in the frying pan.
- Transfer the spicy sausage to a large mixing bowl and add the pure pumpkin. Mix the sausage and pumpkin together into a delicious filling. You can add pepper as you see fit.
- Fill each wonton cup with a heaping spoonful of your sausage-pumpkin filling.
- Sprinkle a pinch of shredded Parmesan on the top of each wonton cup.
- Switch oven to broil and place the baking sheet back in the oven. Keep a watchful eye - when the shredded Parmesan begins to melt, you are all set.
- Eat immediately or store in the refrigerator, warming in the oven at 200 degrees for 10-15 minutes before serving.