Good Stuffed Pumpkin

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It comes to this time of the year again. We hope you all had a wonderful year in 2018, achieved your goals, and now get ready for a new one! I’m sure that before getting ready, there would be a few celebrations first.
stuffed pumpkin
Ever since I’ve changed my diet to vegetarian 4 years ago, I’ve been asked quite often with the questions like: what can you eat then? Can you get enough nutrition at all? Are you a buddhist?… My grandmother still takes pity on me every time when we have family dinner together. Sometimes even me myself feel a little jealous on those get-together occasions. Not only because most of time vegetarians can only get the side dishes, but also because even a vegetarian main dish can easily be ignored among the other “Ying dishes” (硬菜 hardcore dish, often made with meat in large portion).

So, here we are, contributing this perfect recipe for your festive feast. It’s large, eye-catching, rich and full of surprises. It’s stuffed with quinoa, mushrooms, almonds, cranberries and kale, spiced with exquisite saffron and cooked in white wine. Doesn’t sound gorgeous enough? Sprinkle a handful of feta cheese on the top, mix some green salad on the side. Make sure you have a small sharp knife before you start, it’s gonna be a lot of fun with carving and stuffing.
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INGREDIENTS
serves 6

a whole pumpkin (I used a 2kg buttercup squash, any other variety and size would be fine, just have to adjust the amount of stuffing ingredients and the baking time)

1 cup (200g) raw quinoa
1 medium sized onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
6 brown or white mushrooms (not shitaki variety), sliced
a handful dried cranberries
a handful almonds, chopped
1 cup kale (or other greens), chopped
1g saffron (optional)
50ml dry white wine
feta cheese and herbs for topping
coconut oil, salt and pepper
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METHODS

1. Cook the quinoa in a pot with 3 times more boiling water, for 10 minutes until half cooked, drain and set aside. Carefully use a small knife, cut a hole on top of the pumpkin, shaping a “lid”, scoop out the seeds and pulp. Preheat the oven to 185°C.

2. In another pan, on medium heat, sauté the onion and garlic in oil until brown. Add mushroom and kale, keep stirring for 3 minutes. Add wine, saffron, salt and pepper. Once almost boiling, add almond, cranberries and cooked quinoa. Stir to combine well, remove from the heat.

3. Fill the pumpkin with the quinoa stuffing. Place the pumpkin “lid” back and bake in the oven for about 1 hour. Check the pumpkin flesh on the side of the “lid” with a knife from time to time. The pumpkin is ready when skin is browned and the flesh is soft. Cut into slices and garnish with feta and herbs.
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One Pot Pumpkin Soup

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This pumpkin soup is simple, hearty, nutritious and beautiful. Chop, all in one pot, blitz, done. I used almost every parts of the pumpkin, as I didn’t cut the peel and roasted the seeds for snacking. I also made a quick Asparagus topping while the soup was simmering in pot. The toppings are extremely versatile so you can choose how to style your bowls. For me, it always depends on what I can grab handy. In this case, because the soup is gonna be orange/yellow-ish, so a little bit green color and a bit crunchy texture on top would be a cute combination. That means, almost any kinds of cooked greens such as pak choi, kale or even broccoli would match. I also add a dollop of yogurt and some roasted pumpkin seeds on top. You can skip these, or be more creative! This would make a delicious and comforting meal when you are craving something light yet satisfying. It’s yummy on its own, or served with a slice of toasted bread, drizzled with olive.
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Ingredients
(serves 2-3)
All the vegetables are roughly chopped
500g pumpkins
1 medium sized carrot
1 medium sized onion
2 gloves of garlic
A sprig of fresh herb such as rosemary, coriander
500ml vegetable stock (skip if you don’t have)
Salt and pepper, olive oil

For toppings:
2 asparagus
handful of pumpkin seeds
A dollop of yogurt
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Methods:
1. Place the pumpkin, carrot, onion, garlic and some oil in a deep pot and saute until soft.
2. Add the stock/water until it covers the vegetables, season with salt and pepper. Put chopped herbs in, then bring to the boil and turn to low heat, simmer for 20-30 minutes.
3. In the meantime, wash and dry the pumkin seeds. Heat a pan with a splash of oil, roasted the seeds by seasoning with salt and a pinch of spices such as curry powder or pepper, until golden brown and move to a bowl. Sprinkle some oil again on the pan and saute the chopped asparagus for 2-3 minutes.
4. Pour the vegetable from the pot to a blender. Blitz and taste, serve in bowls and top with asparagus, roasted pumpkin seeds and a dollop of yogurt, along with a slice of toasted bread.

Coconut Pumpkin Dal

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Dal, mostly refers to various kinds of soup, originally from South Asia, prepared with pulses(lentils, peas, beans). I’m super-fond of lentils especially; they’re high in fiber, full of good protein, low in calories, easy to cook, cheap, substantial and delicious. There are a number of different kinds of lentils: dark, green and red, which all have their own special texture when cooked. Red lentils tend to lose their shape when cooked, which is perfect for wonderfully thick and mushy dishes. I’ll use red lentils and pumpkin as the base in this recipe, which makes the Dal rich and a bit naturally sweet. I’ll mix several spices to give it an exotic fragrant flavor, also add coconut cream to balance the smoothness. This is a lovely dish that goes well with rice or flat-bread, accompanied by sides of stir-fried greens or simple fresh salad. I’ll stir-fry some yummy seasoned tofu cubes along with some kale and fresh carrot. In the end, sprinkle some roasted sesame and herbs to garnish. As I always suggested, just grab things that you have. You don’t have kale? Chinese greens will be alright too. I totally like this “made from scratch” kind of cooking style, casual, creative and fun! Well, let’s start.
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Ingredients
(serves 5)
200g red lentils, soaked overnight
2 medium sized onions, roughly chopped
200g pumpkins, in chunks
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Small chunk(about 1 clove of garlic size) of ginger, finely chopped
2 small sized tomatoes, in chunks
1 can coconut cream
2tsp curry powder
1tsp turmeric
1tsp coriander seeds
1stp cumin seeds
a small handful of curry leaves
salt and pepper, water and oil

FOR SIDE DISH:
Tofu, chopped in cubes, seasoned with curry powder, garlic, salt and sesame oil
chopped greens and grated carrot
sesame and coriander to garnish

Methods:
1. Bring the lentils in a pot with enough water to the boil, and reduce to a simmer. Cover and leave to cook gently for 15 minutes until the lentils are softened. Drain and put aside.
2. Set a frying pan on medium heat, add oil, stir-fry the prepared tofu until golden color, put the crispy tofu aside. Keep stir-frying the greens, simply season with salt, put aside also when finish.
3. Get a pot, add some oil and put on medium heat, gently sautee the onion, garlic and ginger. Once the garlic is golden, mix in the pumpkins and tomatoes. Put all the spices in, as well as salt and pepper, and stir fry for another few minutes.
4. When the pot is getting dry, pour in the coconut cream and another can of water, also the cooked lentils. Give them a good stir, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the pumpkins become completely soft. Check once or twice in between. Add more water if necessary. They should have the consistency of porridge. Season to taste, then serve on rice, with side dish along, topped with sesame and coriander.