And the holy season is here… we feel it in the air, it starts getting colder or warmer, the mood changes, and of course, Maria Carey or Michael Bublé start playing on the radio. So it’s time to think about Christmas dinner. For this edition, I’ll bring you a delicious stuffed pumpkin roast.
By Pat Aguilar
And even though it is a happy season, for us travelers it can be quite emotional as most of us are far away from home, and we miss all the traditions that we might have had with our families.
That happened to me during my first Christmas away from family. So, I decided to start my own tradition: on the evening of the 24 December I make a Christmas lasagne (it was the only thing I knew how to cook —just add a red layer and a green layer in between the sheets) and the next day I cook a roast. I only added this part of my tradition a couple of years ago. The first one I made… a disaster, but with time it gets better, trust me! ☺
But before I give you the recipe… a little bit of story of Christmas dinner. Apparently it was our British friends who started the Christmas dinner as we know it: potatoes, roast, and pudding. Depending on where in the world you are, you will celebrate the evening of the 24 or on the 25 December, and each country has their own traditions with regard to food— roast, BBQ, pies, or puddings might be found in different cuisine with small variations. When it comes to drinks, mulled wine and eggnog are found everywhere.
But today we are going to focus on our stuffed pumpkin roast. This recipe can be modified according to your likes, but I have prepared it a few times, and it's divine.
• 2kg butternut pumpkin, halved lengthways
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 1/2 cup (50g) walnuts
• 1/2 cup (100g) brown rice
• 1 small brown onion, finely chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, crushed
• 1 tsp finely chopped rosemary
• Pinch of ground cinnamon
• 400g can lentils, rinsed, drained
• 100g fetta, crumbled
• 30g baby spinach leaves, chopped
• Tomato chutney, to serve
1. Preheat oven to 190°C. Place the pumpkin halves, cut side up, on a baking tray. Brush the cut side with 1 tbs oil. Roast for 1 1/4 hours or until just tender. Set aside to cool.
2. Meanwhile, arrange the walnuts on a baking tray and roast with the pumpkin for 3-5 mins or until toasted. Set aside to cool. Coarsely chop.
3. While the pumpkin is cooking, cook the rice in a saucepan of boiling water for 30 mins or until tender. Drain well.
4. Heat the remaining 1 tbs oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 4 mins or until softened. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 secs or until aromatic. Stir in the rosemary and cinnamon.
5. Place the rice, onion mixture, lentils, fetta, baby spinach and walnut in a large bowl and stir to combine. Season.
6. Use a spoon to remove pumpkin seeds and membrane and discard. Scoop out flesh, leaving a 2cm-thick shell. (Keep the flesh for another use.)
7. Divide rice mixture among pumpkin shells and press down firmly. Carefully place the pumpkin shells together and tie with kitchen string to secure. Place on a baking tray and roast for 45 mins or until heated through. Transfer to a serving platter. Cut into slices and serve with tomato chutney.
I hope you enjoy this. Don’t forget to tag us on Instagram when you make it.
Merry Christmas everyone!