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Monday, October 21, 2013

Rice-filled Pumpkin | You've Got Meal!

It took for us to make our own blog in order to start cooking pumpkin, but the wait was worth. Growing up the only way we actually ate pumpkin was in (a very nice) pie, that, I have to admit, is one of the best smelling dishes I’ve ever seen. But bringing this seasonal ingredient to a salty dish was something I wanted to do for a very long time and I started with the stew posted last time. This time, the dish is a little flashier and it can certainly make you feel badass in front of your guests. Honestly, bringing a neat looking pumpkin filled with a spicy, creamy rice to the table has to score some points with the company you keep. 

Let’s start of with the ingredients that I used for filling a pumpkin about 1,3-1,5 kilo pumpkin: 
about half a cup of risotto rice, 
1 medium onion, 
3-4 cloves of garlic, 
1 medium beet, 
4 tbsp capers 
1 chilli, 
cinnamon, ground cumin and cardamom, 
salt, pepper, 
75 grams of butter, 
olive oil and 
100 grams of grated Parmesan. 

And of course the above said pumpkin and its insides. A couple of things about the ingredients: I decided to fill the pumpkin with a risotto style rice and, also, add cheese to this combination, but you can easily turn this recipe in a vegetarian star by using soy or coconut milk/cream, in which case a slightly more oriental touch of aromas could be in case. For the pumpkin, pick a healthy, sturdy one, with no visible marks or soft areas – those can give you trouble in the oven. You need to remove the insides of the “beast” before beginning, but don’t throw it away, you’ll integrate it in the rice. Also, make sure you don’t throw the top of the pumpkin, you’ll use it later.

  • To start things of, cook your beet in the oven. First wash the root vegetable, pat it dry, place it on a piece of tin foil, splash a small amount of olive oil on the beet, some salt then close the foil on the vegetable, creating a wrapper that still holds enough room for the steam to build in there. The cooking time depends on the size of the beet, in this case it took 45 minutes. The vegetable is done when you can easily stick your knife through it. When the beet is done, remove the foil, let it cool down then finely cut it -  set aside. 
  • Next, start making your risotto by cooking the finely diced onion and garlic for a bout 4 minutes on high heat, in some olive oil. Next add the beet,  the capers and the pumpkin insides (you won’t be able to use all of it, so keep around 1 cup of the finely diced pumpkin “entrails”). Cook the vegetables for another 3 -5 minutes. Add in the rice and all the spices and cook them for a minute before adding the liquid – use only stock or add wine, if you feel like it (1 part wine to 3 parts stock, make sure you simmer the wine down before adding the rest of the liquid).You need to cook the rice to about 90% done, so make sure you taste your rice -  it should take around 20 minutes on a medium high heat. 
  • Remove the rice from the stove, add in the butter and mix things. 
  • Next, start filling the pumpkin with the creamy rice – add a couple of tbs. of rice and top those with a heavy layer of cheese. Keep going until you’re almost at the top -  don’t completely fill the pumpkin up t the top, it will need some space to bubble up when the insides  start cooking. 
  • Place top on the pumpkin and put in an oven tray, with some oven proof paper, on medium heat and cook for about 30 minutes. 
  • You can choose to serve the pumpkin whole and cut it at the table or slice it yourself before plating, either way make sure to add some green to the dish with some chopped  parsley or oregano or basil or thyme or mint. Pick one already. And then eat, you’ll like it. 

Oh, and I can’t end this recipe without making this point: you can always use bacon in cooking the rice, just saying, no pressure……

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