gosh !! it has been a long time since my last post!! I miss writing in my tiny space..
before I proceed to my recipe for today, I would like to acknowledge the hard work that mums put towards their children and how much it eventually pays off. As for me .. I am always busy .. with all the duties and things I need (or I think I need) to do.. my kids, work, exercise, cooking, cleaning.. etc. never ends! I wake up everyday with a list of things to do and a lot of times I struggle to tick them all off on that day, so things keep piling up and by the end of the week I’m exhausted and ready for a big tantrum!!
with a recent bad ankle injury, it got even worse.. as you can imagine, I was so much slower and it was really frustrating.. but you know what?! I was forced to slow down my pace, and that’s when I realised I prooobably needed to anyway .. I just had to take it more easy on myself and stop overloading it with so much work and then forget about enjoying the moments with my family. I have to say though, my kids have been amazing .. seeing me in pain and not able to do what I usually do, they stepped up to help and actually surprised me with how much they could do! cleaning the house, preparing their own ‘gourmet’ school lunches, making me breakfast and even walking to school by themselves sometimes .. didn’t I tell you mums? It eventually pays off ..
anyway, I’m thankful for having my ankle almost back to normal now and it’s about time to get back in the kitchen and prepare some yummy meals ..
you might be wondering if this recipe was inspired by Halloween
well, yes and no ..
I am a big pumpkin fan anyway, I love it in all different colors, shapes and sizes .. and seeing it everywhere these days made me want to cook it as a whole and share the recipe with you ..
one thing that has held me back from cooking a whole pumpkin though .. is carving it!!
it’s never easy right?!! one mistake with this sharp serrated knife and it could actually KILL you ..
but here is my little secret .. I figured out a way to make this a pleasant experience and I have decided to give my secret away to you guys..
you just have to
Roast it first for 20-30 mins
so that the skin softens a little
and then cut into it!
Genius right?! thought so .. haha!
here are the steps
I got 1 medium size pumpkin 2.5- 3 kgs in weight
I let it roast in the oven (at 180 degrees C) for about 25-30 mins
prepare spice mix by toasting them lightly then crushing in a mortar using a pestle or alternatively use a grinder and blend leaving some texture in the spices. leave aside for later.
back to the pumpkin
after about 30 mins in the oven, leave to cool down for 5-10 mins, then start carving using a small sharp serrated knife as shown
when the lid is completely off, using a big metal spoon scrape out the seeds and all the fibrous bits sticking to the pumpkin walls inside and discard
or you can keep the pumpkin seeds for later
they’re absolutely delicious and so good for you!
*tip: (wash them ,boil in salty water for 10 mins, drain and dry, then coat them with olive oil and roast in a preheated oven until the seeds lightly brown 5-15 mins, leave to cool before eating.. you could eat as is or add to cereals, yogurts or bread)
Now before I proceed further, I would like to tell you why this vegetable should be your best friend from now on ..
Some of the health benefits of Pumpkin
- one of the best sources of Beta-carotene ‘the stunning orange colour’ it’s a brilliant antioxidant, it converts into vitamin A in the body protecting it from cancers and other nasty diseases.
- loaded with other essential vitamins (such as B complex, C and E) and minerals such as potassium which support your heart, kidneys, eyes and immune system.
- pure pumpkin is rich in dietary fibre and low in calories, recommended by dieticians for those who are trying to lose some extra weight.
brush the inside of the pumpkin with olive oil and then rub it with half the amount of prepared spice mix, season with extra sea salt and cracked pepper and return to preheated oven for a further 1 hour or until tender.
rinse quinoa, then leave it to cook on low heat while you carry on with the rest of the steps
prepare the beef mince following the recipe below
while beef and quinoa are cooking ..
prepare the chickpeas using the other half of your prepared spice mix
add the chickpeas to the pan of beef mince and stir in the cooked quinoa
mix well to combine
the pumpkin should be ready by now
it’s time to serve
spoon the beef and quinoa mixture into the whole pumpkin and dress with the fresh coriander
serve with extra lime wedges and a side of tomato salad
Bon a petit
- 1 medium sized (2.5-3 kgs) Japanese pumpkin
- half a cup of light taste olive oil
- 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1.5 cups of mixed coloured quinoa (red, black and white)
- sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to season
- 1 lime, juice and zest, extra for serving
- 1 bunch of fresh coriander leaves (half for the beef and the rest for garnish)
- 500g of cooked chickpeas(about 2 cups)
- 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
- 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1/2-1 teaspoon chilli flakes
- half a teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 500g extra lean beef mince
- 4-5 tablespoons of light taste olive oil
- 2 medium brown onions
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground paprika
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- a pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
- half the bunch of coriander leaves, chopped
- 1/4 cup Passata (tomato puree) or 1 table spoon of tomato paste
- 1 cup cold filtered water
- 1/2 a kilo of red and yellow grape tomatoes, cut in halves
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- juice of half a lemon
- sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C
- place the whole pumpkin on a roasting tray lined with baking paper
- leave to roast for 25-30 mins, until the outer skin softens.
- meanwhile toast cumin, coriander and fennel seeds in a small pan for 1-2 mins or until fragrant, shaking the pan gently and continuously to toast spices evenly.
- add the toasted spices to a mortar, then add the rest of spice mix ingredients (salt, chilli and cinnamon)
- using a pestle crush all spices against the walls of the mortar to form a coarse powder. (you can use a grinder instead of mortar)
- set spice mixture aside for later
- remove pumpkin from the oven, leave for 5-10 mins to cool down
- carve the pumpkin as shown above, remove the lid and scoop out the seeds and fibrous parts.
- now, rub the flesh inside with 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil (you can use a brush or your hands)
- dust with half the amount of prepared spice mix to cover the internal orange flesh.
- season pumpkin with extra sea salt and cracked pepper.
- return to hot oven without the lid, and roast for a further 1 hour or until fully cooked and tender (you can check by inserting the tip of a knife into the thickest part of the flesh, if easily inserted then the pumpkin is fully cooked)
- rinse quinoa under cold water, drain
- add quinoa to 1.5 cups cold water in a saucepan, bring to boil, then cover and simmer on low heat for 20 mins or until all the water is absorbed, turn heat off
- fork the quinoa (use a fork to stir), then cover and set aside
- in a large frying pan(big enough to accommodate all the filling ingredients later),heat the olive oil, add chopped onions and stir until soften
- add cumin, paprika and chilli flakes, stir for 1-2 mins until fragrant
- add the beef mince in small portions all around the pan as shown
- stir with a wooden spoon until the meat mixes well with the spicy onions and loses all the red colour
- add the tomato paste or puree and water
- season with salt, cover and simmer on low heat for 20 mins or until cooked
- carefully taste and add a pinch of salt if needed, then sprinkle with chopped coriander leaves
- turn heat off, cover and set aside
- in another pan heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, add the crushed garlic cloves
- immediately, add the other half of prepared spice mix and chickpeas.
- cook together stirring for 2 mins on medium heat
- add the spicy chickpeas to the large pan of beef mince mixture
- stir in the cooked quinoa, mix well to combine
- stir in the zest and juice of one lime
- simply toss all salad ingredients together in a small bowl, taste and season accordingly
- transfer to a serving plate
- spoon the beef and quinoa mixture into the cooked pumpkin and garnish with fresh coriander leaves
- serve with tomato salad and some extra lime wedges
- You can cook quinoa and/or beef mince one day ahead, and keep in the fridge