fret not, VEGGIE LOVERS – we have the perfect turkey stand-in for this Thanksgiving. These Hokkaido stuffed pumpkins can be a vegetarian main course or a side dish for meat eaters. Either way, this is a beautiful dish for the holiday table. Stuffed with savory mushroom rice and a unique combination of feta, kale, mint and golden raisins, the flavors are both surprising and belly-warming. Created by dream team Luise Vindahl and David Frenkiel of Green Kitchen Stories for their latest cookbook Green Kitchen Travels, this recipe gives meaning to the word ‘feast.’ These stuffed pumpkins prove that abundance can be found in a meat-less meal, and accordingly, they’re the perfect cornerstone for your night of giving thanks.
A couple of years ago, we were in the U.S.A. during Thanksgiving. It is not something we celebrate in Scandinavia, so we weren’t prepared for the hype that surrounds this American holiday. We were invited to the home of a distant relative of David. They wanted to give us a proper celebration and had prepared an impressive table of sweet pies, Brussels sprout salad, potatoes, condiments and… the largest turkey we had ever seen. Unfortunately, David forgot to tell them the small detail that he was a vegetarian. He couldn’t bear disappointing his well-meaning relatives and looked at me with panic in his eyes. Throughout that evening he carefully smuggled all his pieces of turkey on to my plate, while digging in on the side dishes. After that experience, we started to think that vegetarians need their own Thanksgiving dish, instead of always being left with the sides. These stuffed pumpkins are our version of a centerpiece. They are filled with delicious autumn vegetables, pistachio nuts, raisins and cinnamon. Here used smaller Hokkaido pumpkins, but a larger muscat pumpkin also works well – it just needs longer cooking time.
Holiday Feta + Kale Stuffed Pumpkins
2 cups (14 oz) wholegrain rice (any color will work)
5 cups (40 fl oz) water
2 Hokkaido pumpkins
2 Tbsp cold-pressed coconut or olive oil (reserve 1 Tbsp for rubbing the pumpkins)
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 handful mushrooms of choice, coarsely chopped
6 kale leaves (any type will work), thick stalks removed, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup (3 1/2 oz) shelled pistachio nuts, coarsely chopped
5 sprigs of mint, leaves picked and chopped
3 Tbsp raisins
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
5 oz feta cheese, crumbled
Rinse and drain the rice. Place in a saucepan together with the water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and cover with a lid. Simmer gently for about 40 minutes until tender.
Meanwhile, prepare the pumpkins. Cut a lid out of the top of each one, then scoop out the seeds and discard. Rub the insides with oil and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400F. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large frying pan and fry the onions, mushrooms and kale over a medium-low heat until soft and cooked, but not brown. Remove from the heat, add the pistachios, mint, raisins and cinnamon and stir well. Add the cooked rice and crumbled feta cheese and toss to combine. Spoon the stuffing into the greased pumpkins, put the ‘lids’ back on and bake in the oven for 20–30 minutes or until the skin is browned and bubbly.
Check with a knife to see if the pumpkin flesh is soft. Serve hot. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for 3–5 days.
Copyright: GREEN KITCHEN TRAVELS by David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl, published by Hardie Grant, October 2014