My visiting niece, Little Diamond, is vegetarian. AdventureMan and I are not vegetarian, we laughingly say we are meatatarian or meatavore, but the truth is, we don’t eat a lot of meat, either. Last I tried a new recipe, not entirely original, but a lot of fun, and it turned out really really good. It is also surprisingly easy.
(This is not my photo, but it looks a lot like my pumpkin. It is from visual recipes, another great recipe site)
I got the idea from a quilting friend in Kuwait who baked a pumpkin full of a meat stuffing. It sounded yummy. I filled it with a channa dal / burgul mixture (recipe follows) and I added:
1 chopped apple
seeds from 1/2 pomegranate
1/2 cup slightly chopped walnuts
Here is the original recipe for the stuffing:
• 3/4 cup chana dal
• One large onion, chopped
• 2 cloves garlic (or more, to taste), minced or pressed
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 cup bulgur wheat
• 2 cups hot water
• 1 teaspoon salt (or less, to taste)
• 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley or cilantro
• freshly ground black pepper
Soak chana dal for 10-12 hours. Drain and rinse.
Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until soft (5-8 minutes). Add drained chana dal and bulgur wheat. Sauté for about 3 more minutes, until bulgur wheat is browned (it will begin to smell heavenly). Add all remaining ingredients except pepper, bring to a boil, and lower heat.
Simmer, covered, for about 35 minutes. At this point, check to see if the chana dal is tender enough for you. If not add a quarter cup more water and simmer another few minutes or until you are satisfied. Turn off heat and let sit, covered, for at least 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and mix in pepper.
Makes about 6 cups.
The only hard part is remembering to soak the chana dal.
Cut a lid off the top of the pumpkin. I usually put a notch, so I know how the lid fits back on.
You have to clean out the pumpkin, throwing out the innards (you can toast the seeds if you want). I also cut some of the pumpkin flesh into small pieces and added it to the stuffing, but that is optional.
Stuff the pumpkin tightly with the stuffing mixture, then line a baking bowl or pan with the remaining stuffing, set the pumpkin in the center, pour 1/2 cup of water – or wine, now that we are in Qatar – or broth – over the stuffing, and cover loosely with foil.
Bake at 350°F / 175°C for one hour, or more, until the pumpkin flesh is soft all the way through. Cut the pumpkin into slices to serve, and heap extra stuffing on top.
Additional hint – I use a Misto, a bottle you can fill with the best olive oil, pump, and spray. I spray the bowl before I put the stuffing in, to make cleaning easier, and I also spray the pumpkin to give it that glisten. It is very sparing with the olive oil, but you still get the taste.
Little Diamond asked if it were a potiron or a citrouille, two words the French use for pumpkins, but none of us could say definitely. I thought it was a potiron, because it is more squat and I thought citrouille were taller and oranger, but Little Diamond actually looked it up online after dinner.
AdventureMan reminded me of the time in Tunisia when Halloween was coming and I went to the market and bought a whole pumpkin to carve. I don’t think it was really a pumpkin at all, it was a huge pumpkin-like squash, and it was sold in slices, by the kilo. I bought the smallest one I could find, but it still caused quite a commotion, buying the whole squash, not just a slice.
And I was thinking, too, of my French friend who shared her recipe with me for the very best pumpkin pie I have eaten in my life, ever.