Lockdown in Italy has been tough but this weekend Piemonte turned yellow which means we are now allowed to travel outside our commune for both essential and non-essential reasons and the shops are fully open, albeit with a 6pm curfew. I don’t enjoy shopping in general but I do enjoy a trip to our local farmer’s market (mercato contadino) in Mondovi so of course that’s where we headed! As usual there was a beautiful array of local seasonal produce on display including this gorgeous selection of pumpkin and squash. I often make roasted pumpkin soup and my squash, red lentil and coconut dahl is a favourite with family and friends but this time I thought I’d try making a stuffed pumpkin as a centrepiece for a vegetarian Christmas dinner.
A medium pumpkin or squash
A red onion
A handful of mushrooms
A cup of rice, brown or white
Some cavolo nero or other greens (cabbage, kale, spinach)
A chunk of Gorgonzola (around 4oz)
Prepare the pumpkin by cutting off the top, scooping out the seeds and enough flesh to create a space for the filling. You can chop the flesh and add it to the mixture.
My pumpkin had a very tough skin so I decided to roast it before adding the stuffing to ensure that the flesh was properly cooked. Rub a little olive on the inside and outside of the pumpkin and season the inside with salt and pepper. I left my pepper to roast in a hot oven for around 30 minutes whilst I prepared the filling.
Start by washing the rice and cooking it in salted boiling water. The amount of time will depend on the type of rice used. Mine took around 15 minutes. Don’t worry if it’s still got a little bite as it will cook some more inside the pumpkin. Drain well and set aside.
Next, finely chop the onions, mushrooms and green leaves.
Melt some butter or oil in a pan – I used butter for extra flavour – and fry off the onion until soft. Then add the mushrooms and green leaves and sauté for around 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cooked rice and season well with salt and black pepper.
Assemble the different components. Mix the Gorgonzola cheese with the cooked rice and vegetables and use the mixture to stuff the pumpkin.
Pop the lid on the pumpkin and cook in a hot oven for a further 20 to 30 minutes or until the flesh is firm but soft. I served my roasted stuffed pumpkin with roasted brusselsprouts and chestnuts with maple syrup. The perfect combination for a vegetarian Christmas dinner or winter supper.