I always start the Thanksgiving Feast with a bright fresh salad before the dense, carb-heavy main event. I use autumnal flavors and colors. Sometimes, it’s persimmons, sometimes it’s pomegranates, sometimes it’s golden beets. This year, it was individual Pumpkin Cambozola Walnut Custards on top of baby spinach, garnished with vibrant pomegranate seeds.
The Custards are simple to make and combine canned pumpkin puree with rich, creamy cambozola cheese, toasted walnuts and hint of thyme and toasted walnuts. If you can’t find cambozola cheese, you can use gorgonzola but it’s more assertive in flavor.
Serve these the day you make them. The trickiest part of the recipe is unmolding the custards. If you have a small offset spatula, it’s a breeze; OR you could serve them in the ramekins as a stand alone first course.
Serve these over a simple spinach salad garnished with pomegranate seeds and dressed with your favorite vinaigrette.
Pumpkin is expected at Thanksgiving, but it’s so versatile, it’s not just for pie.
PUMPKIN CAMBOZOLA WALNUT CUSTARDS WITH SPINACH SALAD
SERVES: 6 People — 6-oz. ramekins, or 12 People — 3-oz. ramekins
1 15-oz. can pumpkin
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 1/2 ozs. cambozola cheese or gorgonzola generous 1/2 cup
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts (toasted)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
Unsalted butter for ramekins
12 3-oz. ramekins or 6 6-oz. ramekins
1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
2. Butter the ramekins and set aside.
3. Put a kettle of water on to boil.
4. Line the bottom of the baking dish with a double layer of paper towels and place all the ramekins in the pan.
5. Place the pumpkin, eggs, egg yolks, heavy cream and thyme in a food processor and pulse until well blended.
6. Season with salt and pepper.
7. Transfer mixture into a measuring cup or bowl with pouring spout to make handling easier.
8. Pour mixture evenly into ramekins. Divide the cambozola or gorgonzola among the custards, do the same with the walnuts.
9. Using a microplane, grate fresh nutmeg over the top of each custard.
10. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides, being careful not to get any water in the ramekins.
11. Bake the custards 35-40 minutes until a knife inserted in the middle comes out almost clean. Check as soon as 25 minutes. Transfer the entire pan to a cooling rack and let them cool completely.
12. Using a small offset spatula, gently and carefully remove the custards and place on top of the salad.