While looking for ideas to use a pumpkin – which I don’t eat very often really – I thought that, thanks to its shape, I could turn into a food container that I won’t need to throw away! I must say in general I’m not a huge fan of pumpkins because for me they’re too sweet to use in savory dishes (for instance, pumpkin velvet soup? Aaaahhh…!!), except kabocha which I love! It tastes like chestnuts and is not mushy and watery unlike other varieties.
Ok so I had a container but what to put inside? Grains: I randomly picked quinoa, that I hadn’t had in months. Among winter produce I really love cavolo nero, so sober and serious; the ever-present eggplants; pomegranate seeds that add a kick of color, and as dried fruit I chose pine nuts (toasted of course). I combined these ingredients together instinctively and I was very surprised how good they go together! Pumpkin and eggplant’s sweetness and tenderness, pomegranate’s acidity, pine nuts’ crunchiness and cavolo nero’s earthiness.
Naturally you can choose to stuff the kabocha with the quinoa salad or chop it up and add it to the other ingredients. I’ve noticed that half a medium pumpkin is good for 4 servings. Buon appetite!
BAKED KABOCHA STUFFED WITH EGGPLANT, CAVOLO NERO AND POMEGRANATE QUINOA SALAD // vegan
by Marta Giaccone
prep time: 10 mins, cook time: 1 hr, total time: 1 hr
½ kabocha pumpkin
1 tbsp olive oil
- Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F
- Wash pumpkin and pat dry. Remove seeds with a spoon. Gently brush the flesh with olive oil.
- Place in the oven on a tray lined with parchment paper. First put it cut side down for 15 minutes or so, until the edges become golden, then turn it upside down facing up. Bake for a total of about 1 hour or until soft (open oven and prick with a fork to check).
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
the seeds of ½ pomegranate
1 small bunch of cavolo nero or kale
½ cup pine nuts
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 handful parsley
- While the pumpkin is cooking, bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium-small pot and add a pinch of salt. Thoroughly rinse and drain quinoa, then add to the boiling water. Bring to a boil, then lower the flame, cover and let cook according to packaging instructions, usually about 15 minutes. Turn off the flame and let sit for another 10 minutes. All the liquid should be absorbed by then. Check for salt and season to taste.
- Slice eggplant in any way you prefer, either diced or chopped thinly. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil and a couple of garlic cloves in a pan, then add the eggplant pieces and cook until soft.
- Steam, boil or sauté kale for just a few minutes until tender.
- Toast pine nuts in a hot skillet on medium heat, carefully checking and stirring every few seconds to prevent burning. It should take just a few minutes. Let cool.
- Assemble: in a large bowl mix together quinoa, pomegranate seeds, toasted pine nuts, eggplant, kale, chopped parsley, olive oil and salt. When the pumpkin is ready, either stuff it with some quinoa salad or cut it up and add to the salad. Eat warm.