Pumpkins are a versatile vegetable and their sweet flavour enhances many dishes. Use pumpkin in risottos, soups and  stews, with orzo pasta and on pizzas, or bake it in the oven with a selection of root vegetables. Steamed, bite-sized cubes of pumpkin make a good salad with feta cheese, walnuts, fresh herbs and baby spinach leaves tossed in a dressing of olive oil and lemon juice.

Try this easy recipe for the perfect comforting winter dish.

Meal in a Pumpkin
Serves 4­–6

1 whole crown or grey pumpkin, about 1.8 kg
250 g good beef mince
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves  garlic, diced
1 rasher bacon, diced
1 cup mixed frozen corn, carrots and peas
1 x 400 g can chopped tomatoes
3 shakes Tabasco sauce
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1.       Preheat the oven to 180?C.
2.       Cut around the stem end of the pumpkin and remove a circular top.
3.       Scrape away the seeds and any soft flesh from the inside and discard.
4.       In a bowl, combine the beef mince with the onion, garlic, bacon and frozen vegetables. Season well and add half the can of tomatoes and Tabasco sauce.
5.       Stuff the pumpkin with the meat mixture and replace the top. Place in an oven dish. Pour into the dish the remaining canned tomatoes and half a cup of water; cover with foil and bake for 1 ½ hours until a fork pushed into the pumpkin meets no resistance.
6.       Serve in wedges, sliced like a cake.

This recipe is by New Zealand food writer Jill Brewis and from her book The Grower’s Cookbook.

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