Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Baked Stuffed Pumpkin

We always host an end-of-season meal the Big Red Farm Crew, to give them a chance to eat some of the stuff they've been growing, and to thank them for their hard work during the term.  In the spring, this meal often centers around green salads (with some snap peas and pesto thrown in if we've been on the ball with our planting!), but in the fall we have many more options.  This term's November farm dinner included baked stuffed Autumn Crown pumpkin, roasted beet salad, a crisp lettuce salad, and local apple cider.  It was colorful and warm, and everyone laughed a lot.  A good dinner, a good crew, and a good season!

A couple of notes: I made a number of changes from the original recipe, chiefly because I can't bring myself to get all organized and get in the car and drive somewhere to get one of something to use in one recipe.  This is how I did it; the original recipe can be found here.  I also think that one could use just about any combination of fruit and nuts; dried cherries, pecans, and orange zest would be amazing!

Also, the original recipe calls for a 2-lb pumpkin, but I think the one I used was a little smaller, and the amount of filling was just right.  Finally, Jamie Oliver says to leave the pumpkin skin on your plate, but we found that the skin of our Autumn Crown pumpkin was quite edible!

adapted from Jamie Oliver

serves 4

1 pumpkin or similarly-shaped winter squash (Buttercup, Kabocha, Hubbard, etc.), about 2 lbs
2 cloves garlic, peeled
olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
handful small black olives, stoned and finely chopped (optional)
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves finely chopped OR about 3/4 tsp dried rosemary leaves
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, or a little less ground
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup Basmati rice, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons raisins
1/4 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock

Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Cut the lid off the pumpkin and reserve it. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Make the hollow where the seeds were a little bigger by scooping out some more pumpkin flesh. Finely chop this pumpkin flesh and one of the garlic cloves. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat. Pour in a splash of olive oil, then add the chopped pumpkin, chopped garlic, onion, olives, and half the rosemary. Cook gently for 10 minutes or so until the pumpkin has softened.

Meanwhile, place the whole garlic clove and the remaining rosemary in a pestle and mortar. Add the red pepper flakes, a good pinch each of salt, pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon and bash until you have a paste. Add a little olive oil to loosen up the mixture and then rub the inside of the pumpkin with it.

Season the cooked pumpkin mixture with salt and pepper and stir in the rice, raisins, almonds and lemon zest with a pinch each of nutmeg and cinnamon. Mix thoroughly, then add the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 3 minutes (no longer or the rice will end up overcooked later).

Tear off a sheet of tin foil that's large enough to wrap the pumpkin in a double layer and lay on top of a baking tray. Place the pumpkin on top and spoon the rice mixture into it, then place its lid back on. Rub the skin with a little olive oil, wrap it up in the foil and bake in the oven for about an hour. The pumpkin is ready when you can easily push a knife into it. Bring it to the table and open it up in front of everyone. Cut it into thick wedges and tuck in, leaving the skin.

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