Whether you’re after a unique table decoration or a festive pud, this recipe meets both requirements – and proves that pumpkins aren’t just for Halloween! A spectacular centrepiece for your festive table, this whole pumpkin is stuffed with steamed millet, fresh and dried fruits, whole almonds and plenty of spices.
Serves 8 to 10
- 259g/8oz millet or rice or quinoa
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1L vegetable stock
- 85g/3oz large seedless raisins
- 2 tbsp medium dry sherry
- 1 med pumpkin about 28cm/9in diameter
- 170g/6oz tart apples, peeled (if wished), cored and sliced
- 170g/6oz pears, peeled, cored and sliced
- 85g/3oz whole blanched almonds
- 50g/2oz no-need-to- soak dried apricots, chopped
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp grated nutmeg
- ¼ tsp ground mace
- ¼ tsp ground allspice
- ¼ tsp cardamon seeds
- 2 tbsp clear honey
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Sea salt, to taste
Fry the millet/rice/quinoa in 1 tbsp of the oil for 3 to 5 minutes in a heavy-based pan, stirring constantly until some of the grains begin to crack open. Add the hot vegetable stock, stir well, bring to the boil, then cover the pan with a lid. Simmer gently for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the millet does not stick to the bottom of the pan. During this time the grains will burst open and fluff out. Meanwhile, put the raisins in the sherry to soak and plump up.
Set the oven at Gas Mark 3, 325oF, 170oC.
Cut off the top of the pumpkin and scoop out all the seeds and strings. Using a spoon, carefully scrape out (and reserve) a layer of flesh from the inside of the pumpkin – you will need 250g/8oz pumpkin – being careful not to break into the tough outer skin. Trim the base of the pumpkin so that it sits flat in a baking tin. Dice the reserved pumpkin and steam over a pan of simmering water until tender (about 10 minutes). Tip the steamed millet mixture into a bowl and stir in the raisins.
Heat 2 tbsp of the remaining oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan and fry the almonds for no more than 2 minutes over a high heat. Remove from the pan and then add the apples, pears and apricots and fry, stirring frequently until golden. Add the almonds back into the pan. Add the spices and continue stir-frying for 2 – 3 minutes. Add the fruit mixture to the millet with 1tbs of the honey and mix well. Add the steamed pumpkin and plenty of seasoning – the mixture should be really tasty.
Melt the honey with the remaining oil, add a good pinch of cinnamon, and then brush the inside of the pumpkin with this mixture. Spoon the millet filling into the pumpkin and place the lid on top. Lift the filled pumpkin into an oiled roasting tin and bake for 1 hour. Place on a large warmed serving platter and serve at once.
Note: This delicious recipe is adapted from Gourmet Vegetarian Feasts by Martha Rose Shulman, published by Thorsens.