Christmas is fast approaching, and with it the need to plan for Christmas dinner. If you’re vegetarian, the traditional roast turkey is a no-go. If you’ve got issues with gluten, the stuffing that’s often served with that roast turkey may cause difficulties. But you do want to serve a special dinner – one that’s a little different from what you make every other day… So what’s a health-conscious gluten-free vegan supposed to do?
As it happens, my family bought an incredible, beautiful pumpkin. For Halloween (yes, months ago). It was perfectly symmetric, a great size (roughly 15″ diameter), and exactly what my daughter wanted to create the perfect jack-o-lantern. Except that she ended up making arrangements to go out trick-or-treating with friends, as did my son. So my husband and I decided to take advantage of our childless status by going out for a lovely dinner – just the two of us – on Halloween. So we didn’t bother decorating the house, or carving the pumpkin. And it’s been sitting on our coffee table for the past two months.
Until this afternoon, when I decided that it was time to get rid of it before people start arriving for our Christmas party on Wednesday afternoon. So, out came the recipe books (why do I even have all these recipe books, when I invariably end up creating recipes from scratch anyway???). I’d been torn between a curried pumpkin soup and stuffed pumpkin, and stuffed pumpkin ended up winning.
When my husband saw what I was making, he asked “but what will the kids eat?” Probably because they were both rather unenthusiastic about the stuffed acorn squash I made a few months ago. But I persevered, and the results were pretty amazing – both my husband AND my kids agreed wholeheartedly.
So, if you’re trying to figure out what to make for Christmas dinner, or even what to serve the vegetarians attending your Christmas dinner, give this a shot. It was fairly low-effort, and total time start-to-finish (including removing all the pulp and seeds from the inside of the pumpkin) was under two hours (much of that was just cooking time – actual prep time was less than an hour).
Stuffed Pumpkin recipe ( serves 8 )
– 1 pumpkin (12-18″ diameter)
– 2 tbsp soy sauce
– 1 tbsp vegetable oil
– 1 clove elephant garlic, chopped (or, if you don’t happen to have that, about 6 cloves of normal garlic)
– 1 tbsp curry powder
– 1 tsp chili powder
– 1 tsp thyme
– 1/2 tsp cinnamon
– 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
– 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
– 6 whole cloves
– 6 whole cardamom pods
– 2/3 cup dried lentils, boiled and drained
– 3 cups cooked rice (including some wild rice might be attractive – I just used basmati)
– 10 mushrooms, chopped
– 1 cup water
– preheat oven to 350F
– cut the top off the pumpkin, remove the pulp and seeds (if you clean the seeds, toss them with oil and garlic salt, and bake them about 15 minutes at 300F, you’ll enjoy pumpkin seeds – which have been in the news lately as being super-healthy, partly because they’re a great source of zinc)
– brush the inside of the pumpkin with some soy sauce, place in oven on oven tray (cookie sheet… whatever), and bake til soft, maybe 60 minutes, while you prepare the stuffing
– while the pumpkin is baking, heat up the vegetable oil in a large frying pan (I use a wok), and add the chopped garlic.
– Fry for a minute or two, then add the remaining spices.
– Fry for another few minutes, then add half of the water.
– Bring to a boil (this will soften the cardamoms and cloves) and then add the mushrooms.
– Once the mushrooms are cooked (another few minutes) add the lentils and rice and remaining water.
– Cook over low heat til the pumpkin is ready.
– Take the pumpkin out of the oven, pour the rice mixture into it, and put it back in the oven for another 30 minutes.
Nutritional breakdown [nutritiondata.com]
This food is low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Folate, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Selenium, and a very good source of Vitamin A and Manganese.
Glycemic load – 18 (low – that’s good)
Inflammation factor – 90 (high – that’s good, too)
Calories – 230
Fat – 3 grams
Protein – 10 grams
Fiber – 7 grams
Vitamin A – 369% RDA
Vitamin C – 39%
Thiamin – 21%
Riboflavin – 28%
Niacin – 22%
Vitamin B6 – 19%
Folate – 34%
Iron – 23%
Magnesium – 21%
Phosphorus – 30%
Potassium – 35%
Copper – 34%
Manganese – 64%