This is the first pumpkin recipe I’ve ever made. Shocking for some of you, but growing up in the Philippines where pumpkins weren’t easily available, it’s not for me. I’ve never had the urge to buy them or even carve them, but I wanted to change that this year. I’ve inadvertently snubbed it in the the kitchen for far too long.
I picked some a common Asian ingredient combination: onions, tomatoes, celery, carrots and cilantro.
Then I threw in some ground chicken in there.
And all these lovely flavors when into these pre-baked ‘bowls':
And voila, a very satisfying dinner:
I must admit that even though I didn’t grow up with this kind of dish, it did taste like comfort food. The chicken was a tasty complement to the natural flavors of the pumpkin. And the chicken ‘stuffing’? Boy, that’s surely a winner. I’d make that and mix it with rice anytime!
• 3 baby pumpkins
• 2 medium (2 to 3 1⁄4” in diameter) yellow onions, chopped
• 1 celery, sliced perpendicular to the length thinly (2-3mm thick)
• 5 garlic cloves, chopped (about 5 teaspoons chopped)
• 1 ripe tomato, chopped
• 1 medium (7-8” long) carrot, peeled and chopped
• 1-1/4 pounds ground chicken
• 4 stalks of fresh marjoram, stems removed, leaves chopped
• 4 stalks of fresh cilantro, chopped; and extra for garnish
• 1 lime, sliced
• vegetable oil
• cayenne pepper
• Any size baking sheet
• Large pan
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F with the rack in the upper middle part of the oven.
2. Wash pumpkins and place upright on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool on the counter for 10 minutes.
3. Increase the oven temperature to 400°F.
4. Slice the top portion of the pumpkin perpendicular to, and around, the stem using a serrated knife. Cut into the pumpkin to remove the stem. Take out the seeds and pulp with a spoon to clean out the insides of the pumpkins. Smooth the surface of the insides by leveling carefully with your paring knife.
5. Place pumpkins upright on the baking sheet and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Set aside.
6. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil on a large pan over medium to high heat. Sauté yellow onions until they become translucent. Add and sauté the following ingredients, for 30 seconds each according, to this order: celery, garlic, tomato, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper, carrots and chicken. Mix the chicken with the vegetables for 2 minutes and cover for 10 minutes. Stir in 1⁄4-teaspoon cayenne pepper and cover again for another 5 minutes. Taste and add salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper as needed. I tend to like it spicy.
7. Turn off the heat and sprinkle meat mixture with marjoram, cilantro and juice of one lime. Give it a good stir before placing into individual pumpkin bowls.
8. Lightly put and press down stuffing into the pumpkin bowls. Distribute the juice of half the lime among the 3 pumpkins. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Cool on the counter for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with a cut stem of fresh cilantro.