Oh this recipe is exciting. The other night I was lying awake trying to sleep, but I must have been channeling some sort of blogging muse – because suddenly into my brain popped pumpkin pot.
It is summer in this part of the world (yay for flipflops, shorts and tshirts!) and my Mom’s vegetable garden is sprouting out pumpkins like nobody’s business.
Within the next few days when the Troll and I were at the farm helping out with building a roof – I asked my Mom if I could have a pumpkin for my idea. She promptly said ‘pleeeeaseeee TAKE one.’ and so the deal was sealed.
Off we tramped into the first vegetable garden (some people have two cars – my Mom has two vegetable gardens). At the bottom lay the pumpkin patch, leaves starting to lose their vigor. And dotted all about like treasures of summer, were all sorts of beautiful pumpkins. We picked our way through and selected a lovely little Hokkaido pumpkin.
A few days later the Troll I were house sitting for his parents (they had gone off to Cape Town for Biometrics. Which is where your eyes are photographed to make sure that you are not an international terrorist. They passed by the way – huge sighs of relief all round. Not.) It was pumpkin day!
So the big idea here is cook your dish inside the pumpkin, using it as a ‘pot’. Once done, you can dish out what you have cooked in it, as well as some pumpkin from the sides.
Usually the whole cooking process is done in the oven. But the thought of having the oven on half the day running up an electricity bill of note for Pa Russy and Ma Elizabeth did not appeal. So I decided to precook my pumpkin in a large pot.
For stuffing I went with a quick cook couscous (what was left in the packet from my Veggie Loaded Couscous Recipe), tomato and thinly sliced leeks.
I wanted to inject some strong flavors into the stuffing, because the taste of the stuffing has to flavor the pumpkin as well. So I went with quite a lot of garlic, and red wine as the liquid for the couscous to cook in.
For starters I had to prepare the pumpkin. With a large knife I shaved off a sliver from the base, so that it could stand upright. Then I carefully cut the top off. The way I did this was by marking a line all around with the knife, and then inserting it all along until I had cut right through all round. If I had merely tried to chop off the top in one foul sweep, it might have come out skew.
Next I poured in the dry couscous, and packed in the chopped tomatoes, sliced leeks, and garlic. At intervals I sprinkled on salt and pepper. Once the pumpkin was full, I poured in some red wine, and a bit of olive brine from our homemade greek style olives. As a final touch of flavor I pushed in s sprig of rosemary.
Because I did not want to bake the pumpkin away for hours in the oven, I took out a large pot and poured in a layer of water. To prevent the pumpkin from burning at the bottom, I took the metal ring from a mason jar and placed it underneath. You could probably use a small saucer for this as well.
On went the lid and I set the pot to simmer. It took about 30 minutes at full simmer to cook. This time will vary from pumpkin to pumpkin, depending on size, age and type.
Once the pumpkin had softened – but was not 100% cooked – I carefully removed it with oven gloves and placed it on a baking sheet in the oven with the ‘lid’ on.
I left it to bake for about 20 minute on medium high. When I could see a very slight browning on the skin of the pumpkin I removed it from the oven. Beautifully cooked!
The whole process from start to finish with the cooking time was lengthy – but the actual hands on time was minimal! I was pleasantly surprised. Originally I thought of this dish as something beautiful and unique for a party, but it actually turned out to be a fairly time efficient meal. Putting the pumpkin together did not take long, and changing it from the pot to the oven was a matter of minutes.
Seeing as there are so many more of those beautiful Hokaidos in my Mom’s garden, I think I will do another variation soon – maybe more of a stew with mushrooms!
Pumpkin Party PotPrint This
- 1 small pumpkin
- 1/2 cup couscous (it must be the quick cook kind - if not, then you must precook it a bit)
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 leeks
- 2 tomatoes
- 4 large cloves garlic
- 1 small sprig rosemary
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- Take the pumpkin and with a large knife shave off a sliver from the base so that the pumpkin can stand upright nicely.
- Then run the knife in a circle around the top where you want to cut off the lid.
- Carefully insert the knife along this line, until the top comes free.
- Pop off the lid and scoop out the seeds. Discard these or keep them for drying.
- Pour in the couscous.
- Layer the vegetables and spices.
- Once full, pour in the wine, water and olive oil.
- Place a spacer (saucer, wire cross, metal mason jar ring) into a large pot and place the stuffed pumpkin on top. Add water to the pot and place the pumpkin ‘lid’ into the pot as well.
- Set to simmer until the pumpkin softens. This will probably take 20 minutes to half an hour.
- Once the pumpkin is 80-90% cooked, remove from the pot. You should wear oven gloves for this operation as the pumpkin will be hot.
- Place it on a baking sheet and bake on medium high until the skin starts to blush/brown ever so slightly. Then you know that the pumpkin is ready!
Before starting, it is a good idea to check that the pot and the pumpkin are a compatible size. You might find that you will need to cook the lid and the pumpkin in separate pots.