Spicy, heartwarming, and deceptively impressive. The perfect dish for entertaining! The stew itself can be made in advance. Then, on the day of your party, just place the stew inside the pumpkin (or pumpkins if you want a really impressive stew) and bake away. The aroma will get all your guests' tummy's rumbling. And the fact that the stew is baked in a pumpkin creates a fabulous WOW factor. And, I haven't even mentioned the cucumber poblano salsa that is dolloped onto each serving.
First, saute the bell pepper, onions and garlic until softened. My mess of tiny onions is the same as about one medium onion.
Add the spices and cook to make them fragrant and rich in flavor.
My favorite ingredient in this stew is the tomatillos. They look like little green tomatoes with husks. Unfortunately, this is not the season for tomatillos so be selective when purchasing from the store. Look ones that are firm and deep green; the husk should be able to be easily removed.
While the tomatillos are making the stew delicious, prepare the pumpkins. This stew can be made in one big pumpkin or in several small ones. If you are using small ones, acorn squash works the best since it's flesh complements the flavors of the stew perfectly. It doesn't work very well to cook the stew in several different types of little pumpkins because each type of pumpkin cooks at a different rate (as I found out...).
You'll want to cut the top of the pumpkin off so that you have a nice wide opening. You'll also want to find pumpkins that can stand up straight. If absolutely necessary you can slice a very small amount off the bottom to make it stand up nicely. You will need to serve that pumpkin on a bowl-like plate because it will leak at least somewhat out the bottom.
When the pumpkins are soft, the stew is finished. Let cool a little bit before serving. Scoop a nice amount of the cucumber poblano salsa onto the top of each serving. This salsa is spicy and cooling all at once. The avocado is amazing in this!
As you eat it, scrape the pumpkin flesh into the stew. Or, if you want, serve in bowls instead of pumpkins.
Pumpkin Stew in a Pumpkin!
Serves 4-6, adapted from Vegetarian Times
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano, dried
1/2 pounds tomatillos, husked and quartered
1 3/4 cups corn
3/4 teaspoon salt
3-4 pounds pumpkin (either several small acorn squash or one sugar pie, red kuri, kabocha or buttercup)
2 ounces grated cheddar cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Saute until softened.
- Stir in chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Cook for another 3 minutes or so until spices darken.
- Add tomatillos, corn, 1/2 cup water, and salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered for 10-12 minutes or until tomatillos are softened.
- Meanwhile, cut the top 1/3 off of the pumpkin(s) to make a lid. Scoop out pumpkin seeds and strings. Rub the inside of the pumpkin with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt. Place the cheese in the bottom of the pumpkin.
- Fill the pumpkin with stew, then top with the lid. Place on a foil or parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 60-90 minutes, or until pumpkin flesh is fork tender. Remove from the oven and let stand for about 5 minutes.
- Scoop stew, including pumpkin flesh, into bowls and top with salsa. Or, top individual pumpkins with salsa and serve inside the pumpkin!
The Cucumber Poblano Salsa
1 poblano chili, roasted, stemmed, seeded, and diced
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into small dice
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded, and minced (I also roasted mine)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 ripe avocado, diced
- Combine all ingredient except the avocado in a small bowl. Gently fold in the avocado and season with salt and pepper to taste. Hide in the refrigerator so you don't eat it all before the stew is finished.
Labels: Avocado, Cheese, Cilantro, Cucumber, Eggplant, Gluten-free, Jalapeño, Pepper, Pumpkin, Tomatillo