Whole Roast Pumpkin with Autumnal Rice Pilaf

Cooking

I’ve been deliberating posting savoury recipes for a few years now but have always held back due to the simple fact that I called this site ‘tassybakes’ and so must, by my own ruling, share only baked goods (yeah, I’m quite neurotic). I’ve decided that’s a pretty stupid ruling especially as I’m a professional chef by day, who cooks savoury dishes the majority of the time.

Anyway you get the picture, I’m going to share savoury recipes with you, starting with this whole roast pumpkin. You part roast it before filling it with rice, wild mushrooms, cavolo nero, a load of spices, stock and pecans, then it’s popped in the oven for 15 minutes and voila, the rice is cooked and the flavours have seeped into the pumpkin flesh- delicious. You can adapt the recipe and use whatever veg or nuts you have lying around so go wild!

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

  • 2 small/medium pumpkins or 1 large pumpkin
  • 1tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1/2tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2tsp mixed spice
  • sea salt and black pepper

For the rice

  • 250g basmati rice, rinsed thoroughly
  • 2tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 2 large white onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 inch piece fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 green chilli, diced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 6-8 cardamom pods, cracked
  • 1tsp ground turmeric
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 2tsp garam masala
  • 2tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 200g fresh wild mushrooms
  • large handful cavolo nero or kale
  • 100g pecans
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • Green chutney, tamarind chutney, yoghurt and pomegranate seeds, to serve (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c. Slice the top of the pumpkin (or pumpkins) off and hollow out (reserve the seeds and roast them with spices, if you like). Drizzle with oil and rub with spices and seasoning all over, inside and out. Place on a tray (lid included) and roast for 25-35 minutes or until the flesh is very tender.
  2. Rinse the rice several times in cold water then leave to soak until required.
  3. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the sliced onions. Cook out until lightly browned and very soft, then add the garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for a further few minutes. Add the cinnamon stick, bay leaves, cardamom pods and all other spices and cook, stirring often until aromatic. Now add the mushrooms and a little more oil if required, and cook until caramelised. Don’t stir more often than is necessary or they won’t colour up.
  4. Drain the rice. Add the pecans, cavolo nero and rice to the saucepan and stir to coat in the oil and spices. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil, then carefully transfer to the cooked pumpkin. Turn the heat down to 160c on the oven and pop the lid on top of the pumpkin to seal in the steam.
  5. Return the now filled pumpkin to the oven for 15 minutes, then remove and leave to stand, lid on, for a further 10 minutes.
  6. Now you’re ready to serve. Slice the pilaf-filled pumpkin into big wedges and enjoy with green chutney, yoghurt, tamarind chutney and some pomegranate seeds, if you like.

Join Me For Dinner: Wild Garlic Pesto Pasta

Cooking

As a keen cook, I thought (despite my association with baking) it was about time I start sharing savoury recipes for fresh and simple meals I like to cook for myself and my family.

For my first ‘Join Me For Dinner‘ post, I will be sharing my recipe for a simple but absolutely delicious wild garlic pasta with a very special smoked ham (I picked the garlic for this meal just yesterday, so it’s super fresh!).

This seasonal dish works brilliantly at this time of year as wild garlic is growing in abundance (you can find it in patches of woodland and near rivers), but if you don’t have access to it or discover this recipe a little late, just use a basil pesto instead, but try to make it from scratch (you’ll never go back!).

Wild garlic has a really subtle flavour and enticing scent which pairs well with lots of different ingredients; for example, you could use this pesto to coat a chicken breast, rub into a slow roasted leg of lamb or just spread onto bruschetta.

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So, on with the pesto recipe (makes 2 jars)

You will need: 2 very large bunches wild garlic leaves, 1 bunch spinach, 80g pine nuts, 100g finely grated parmesan, a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper, 4tbsp olive oil

Simply place all these ingredients in a food processor and whizz until smooth- it’s that easy!

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Now, for the pasta dish (which served 4) you will need: 150g smoked ham/another good quality thick cut ham (I sourced mine from No2 Pound Street in Wendover, Bucks), 4 servings tagliatelle pasta (my next aim is to make my own, but this time I used shop bought), 3 heaped tbsp wild garlic pesto, 100g sun dried tomatoes, 250g fresh cherry tomatoes, handful pine nuts, sprinkling parmesan cheese

Pop your tagliatelle in a saucepan of boiling water and leave to cook for the recommended time.

Heat a tablespoon olive oil in a large pan (high heat) and add your cherry tomatoes, halved.

Once the tomatoes begin to soften (after a couple of minutes), add the sun dried variety and toss in the oil. Now throw in your ham (chopped into small pieces) and continue to move about the pan.

Drain your pasta and add to the hot pan of tomatoes and ham with another tablespoon of olive oil and the pesto. Toss through the pesto and other ingredients until the tagliatelle is a bright green colour throughout (so you know all the components are well combined).

Serve up a heap of the steaming pesto pasta in a bowl and top with a sprinkling of pine nuts and some parmesan shavings.

I hope you enjoy this recipe, wild garlic is so worth making the most of if you have access to it- it’s delicious (and free!).

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