These stuffed squash were the star of our Christmas dinner every year our family ate a plant-based diet and although we are no longer plant-based, we still love eating all our favourite vegan recipes. These stuffed squash (we call them pumpkins here in Australia) with Harissa sauce are still a favourite for Christmas (albeit served cold now). I wanted to share the recipe for anyone in search of a tasty vegan/plant-based option this Christmas.
Little throwback to our previous Christmas Dinners (2016 we were simultaneously finishing a house renovation and packing up our lives to move from London to Germany…so excuse the chaos).
300g (approx. 1.5 cups) white rice (I like basmati or jasmine for this recipe)
1 leek, sliced
50g pine nuts
2 cloves of garlic
flat leaf parsley (about a handful or so), chopped
thumb of ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
6 cardamom pods (I’ve made this without the cardamom pods and it was fine, though better with than without)
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 large or 3 medium sized squash
1/ In a deep frypan or pot add a little olive oil and fry the sliced leek, stirring until softened
2/ Into the pan grate the ginger and add the garlic cloves (pressed or sliced). Add in the spices and stir for a minute
3/ Rinse your rice, drain and add to the pan
4/ Pour in 750mLs of hot (or boiling) water, stir
5/ Bring to the boil and then lower heat to a gentle simmer for 5 minutes (rice should have absorbed most of the water and be partially cooked – this is going in the oven so no need to cook it all the way)
6/ If using large pumpkin/squash cut them in half and scoop out the seeds and guts. If you’re using a medium (and/or some of my favourite European varieties of) squash, then slice off the tops and scoop out the insides. I used ‘Jap’ pumpkins here in Australia, Butternut would work too, although depending on the butternut there might not be much space for your rice mixture to get stuffed into. In the UK we’d go for ‘red onion squash’ or ‘celebration squash’ and slice off the tops.
7/ Into your rice mix stir in your pine nuts and the chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste
8/ Place your rice mixture inside your squash or pumpkin and either place the tops back onto your smaller squash and place on a baking tray OR place your halved larger pumpkin cut side down onto a lined baking tray
9/ Bake in centre of your oven at 180 C or 356 F for approximately 35 minutes or until the pumpkin/squash is tender but not too mushy (poke with a skewer in the thickest part of the squash if you’re not sure if it’s cooked through).
10/ Pull out of the oven and allow to cool a little before slicing into personal sized pieces (I cut wedges out of the larger pumpkins and halve a smaller squash)
We love serving this with this spicy Harissa sauce:
Ingredients for Sauce:
2 tins of diced tomatoes (400g each)
4 cloves of garlic
Harissa (or regular chilli powder) – just a pinch or to taste
1 Chilli (more if you like it really spicy)
1 Bay Leaf
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/ Finely chop the chilli and garlic and fry in a little olive oil over medium heat for 1 minute, stirring
2/ Add the tinned tomatoes to the pot, grate in the zest of the lemon, squeeze in the juice of the lemon and add in the pinch of chilli powder/harissa powder and the bay leaf
3/ Cover the pot and bring to the boil, lower the heat and allow to simmer gently for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the flavours have combined and the sauce has thickened a little
4/ Serve with your Stuffed Squash and Enjoy!