Pumpkin-Feta Muffins

This weekend I am baking Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Frosting for a Rally to Restore Sanity Cousin's Party. I am also making a Pumpkin-Black Bean Chili for Saturday night dinner. And now I'm using pumpkin to make savory muffins instead of sweet ones. It's safe to say that no one in my household is going to have a Vitamin A deficiency.
(I also made these muffins with butternut squash, but I think the pumpkin is much better.  The photos are of the butternut muffins.)
This recipe comes from the Martha Goes Green cookbook and was featured on 101 Cookbooks. The cookbook was written by Rosie and Ruth, two vegetarians from Australia. I figured if I didn't change my recipe sources soon, I was in danger of becoming Julie-and-Julia, but more like Batya-and-Ina. So here we go, mixing things up a bit.
Post-baking note: These came out a little bit more dense than I thought they would be.  They are more scone-like.  I adapted the recipe (less flour and more squash/pumpkin) and next time I will add 1 tablespoon of olive oil or melted butter and a bit more salt.
I really like the originality of the ingredient combination.  I hadn't thought to put pumpkin with feta and spinach or to use sunflower seeds in a savory muffin.  If you are able to figure out how to make these a wee-bit more fluffy and moist, do let me know.  Until then, happy baking and have a great Halloween weekend!

Post-post baking note: Okay, I spoke with someone who bakes quite often.  She said that if you sift the flour (as per instructions) that will help with the 'lightness' and will make the muffins less dense.  I didn't do this.  Instead, I slowly introduced the flour using a fork (from a measuring cup). I don't have a sifter, but I'm going to get one this week.  Next time I will sift!

Pumpkin-Feta Muffins
(Adapted from the Martha Goes Green cookbook by Rosie Percival and Ruth Friedlander)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 cups  cubed pumpkin, diced into 1/2-inch cubes (as an alternative, use butternut squash)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large handful of baby spinach, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
3 tablespoons sunflower seeds (kernels)
3/4 cup / 1 oz  freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 cup/ 3.5 oz cubed feta
2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup  milk
1 3/4 cups flour (The original recipe has 2 cups of flour, but I thought that made it a bit too dense.)
4 teaspoons aluminum free baking powder
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
Preheat oven to 405F, with rack in the top third.  Butter (grease) a 12-hole muffin pan and set aside.
Sprinkle the olive oil and some salt and pepper over the squash. Toss well and turn onto a baking sheet or roasting pan. Arrange in a single layer and bake for 25 - 35 minutes or until cooked through entirely (my oven heat isn't great, so it took me 40 minutes). Set aside to cool.
Transfer two-thirds of the squash to a large mixing bowl along with the spinach, parsley, sunflower seeds, Parmesan, the feta, and the mustard. Gently fold together. In a separate bowl beat the eggs and milk together and add to the squash mix. Sift the flour and baking powder onto the squash mix.  Then add the salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Fold together just until the batter comes together, be careful not to over mix.
Spoon the mixture into a greased 12 hole muffin tray.  Top each muffin with a few cubes of squash (it looks really nice).  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops and sides of the muffins are golden, and the muffins have set up completely. Let cool for a couple minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack.
You can serve as is or with a little pat of butter.
Makes 12 muffins.