Tuesday 26 January 2010

January 2008 - The Best Baked Pumpkin

The picture on the cover of issue #67 caught my eye, Cranberry & Cinnamon Semifreddo, it even sounds fabulous. Again, though it is a dessert and I have already fulfilled by quota especially when I realise that I started out with the muffins. I did give most of them away though. However I have plenty of jelly cakes that still need to be eaten.

There were a few more things inside that caught my eye. I know that I said before that I don't really like seafood, one exception is salmon, especially a lovely salmon fillet. In this issue Valli Little's recipe for Wasabi-coated salmon with cucumber salad looked wonderful. It uses 150 g of ground wasabi peas (among other things) to coat the salmon fillet. I adore wasabi peas to snack on and normally have a supply in the cupboard but when I went to check the cupboard was bare. Apparently I had forgotten to stock up again and so did the supermarket...grrr. I will make this one day soon though, I hope.

With my first choice defeated by lack of ingredients I went with my second choice. Jamie Oliver's The Best Baked Pumpkin. My hopes for this dish were pretty high as I have made Jamie's Hamilton Squash a number of times. I love it and it is a popular dish when entertaining too. The Best Baked Pumpkin was supposed to be done in a whole Jap (or Kent as they are called here now) pumpkin. I was unable to find a smallish one. Then I thought that I could make individual ones in golden nugget pumpkins but I couldn't get any of those either. So I decided that since the hamilton squash recipe works well in a butternut I would use one for this recipe too. It worked quite well except for the fact that there was a bit too much stuffing and liquid. To be honest while this was an enjoyable meal, served with a simple salad, I don't think it is the best and much prefer the hamilton squash.

The Best Baked Pumpkin
Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side

  • 1 pumpkin (about 1 kg)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • olive oil
  • 1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • a small handful of black olives, stoned and chopped
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves finely chopped
  • 1 dried chilli
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 50g basmati rice, washed and drained
  • 75g dried cranberries
  • 50g shelled pistachio nuts (I used pecans)
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 200ml vegetable stock, preferably organic
  • Preheat the oven to 230 C
  • Cut the lid off the pumpkin and reserve it. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon and keep them to one side. 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. Crumble in the dried chilli, add a good pinch 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 and stir in the rice, cranberries, pistachios and tangerine zest with a pinch each of nutmeg and cinnamon. Mix thoroughly then add the vegetable 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.

The best baked pumpkin

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