Thursday, October 3, 2013

Stuffed Pumpkin

It's pumpkin season and what an amazing vegetable it is! It seems to me that it is one of those ingredients that once you add it to a dish it suddently turns more sofisticated. Its natural sweetness, creamy texture and warm color are an unbeatable combination that can work great both in savoury and sweet recipe ideas. 
Its sweetness and creamy texture also make it an ideal baby-food (steamed, boiled, or roasted and then mashed and mixed witha teaspoon of olive oil and a few drops of lemon juice).
And what about the health benefits? Well, its a low calorie vegetable and it is very rich in vitamin A, flavonoid poly-phenolic antioxidants such as leutin, xanthin, and carotenes. It is also a good source of vitamins C, E and B-complex and minerals like copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.
I often add it in salads either raw or roasted (it tastes great with a honey dressing). The old time classic pumpkin soup is in my top ten list of "Favourite Comfort Foods". I also add it in my "winter savoury pies", combined with wild mushrooms, leeks, fresh seasonal herbs and a smoked cheese....yuuum!!! It tastes great with pasta or even better oven-baked lasagna and I recommend you add it in a frittata or just a simple omelette along with some grated feta cheese.
Well enough with all these ideas...time to share my recipe with you! The other day I found this great-shaped pumpkin. It really looked like it came out of Cinderella's fairytale...I really felt it would be a crime to cut it and chop it! So I had the perfect recipe to honor her shape and beauty: I decided to stuff it and roast it whole! I prepared a stuffing with aromatic basmati rice (you may replace it with quinoa if you prefer), some mushrooms, walnuts, raisins, linseeds, sesame seeds, tomatoes, ginger and fresh herbs.

Here is the recipe:

You will need:

1 large pumpkin around 5-5.5 kg + 400 gr extra for the stuffing (grated)
2 tablespoons olive oil
400 gr basmati rice
300 gr chopped portobello mushrooms
2 medium onions, chopped
4-5 chopped spring onions
2 garlic cloves, mashed
1 tablespoon grated ginger root
4-5 plum tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup linseeds
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped cardamom
2 tablespoons chopped fennel 
1/4 cup chopped dill
1 1/2 teaspoons allspice
1.2 litres hot vegetable stock or water 
salt and pepper
black pepper

Wash your pumpkin well. Slice the lid off the top and keep it aside for later. Using a spoon, remove the seeds and fibrous flesh from the inside. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6/390ºF.
Heat a large saucepan and add the olive oil. Sauté the onions, spring onions, garlic and ginger. Add the mushrooms, walnuts, raisins, sesame seeds, linseeds, gtated pumpkin and allspice and stir. Add the rice and blend well. Add the diced tomatoes and about 1.2 litres of hot vegetable stock or water. Season with salt and pepper, put the heat down to low, cover and let it simmer for 10 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed. Turn off the heat and mix in all the chopped herbs. The rice should not be completely soft by now but not too uncooked either. If you feel it needs to cook a bit longer just put the lid back on and let stand for another 10 minutes.

Stuff the pumpkin with the rice and put its lid back on top.
Cover the oven shelf with some foil and place the pumpkin on it. Put it in the oven and right underneath it place an oven tray filled with water (make sure the pumpkin doesn't touch the water).  Lower the heat to 150°C/gas mark 2/325°F and cook for about 2 hours until the pumpkin and rice are soft enough.

Invite your friends or family (too big just for one!) and enjoy!!!

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