Jeweled Black Rice Stuffed Pumpkin

Thanksgiving is supposed to be a certain way. There are rules to be followed and very specific dishes to be made; the turkey should always be the centerpiece. I understand the meaning of traditions, and how important it is for people to celebrate them every year. It is a well-established, awesome excuse for families to spend time together. Nonetheless, Thanksgiving food is not the object of my desires. I can skip it all together as long as there is bottle of wine with my name on it, and an accompanying glass I can wear all day long, I can, and have had a good time. But imagine if we could get away with having the same cozy feeling by celebrating with the same ingredients, prepared in a different way.  

Inspired by the NYT article posted last week, this week’s recipe is all about breaking the traditions that make Thanksgiving, by cooking really good food that tastes familiar, but is prepared in unexpected, delicious ways.

Roasted whole and stuffed with black rice, jeweled with leeks, fennel, ginger, chickpeas, and pistachios, this pumpkin begs to be the centerpiece of a decadent feast. Bursting with flavor, color, and textures, this dish is unique in every way. Salty, fatty, luscious rice pairs beautifully with the pumpkin’s creamy sweetness. The crunch from the chickpeas and pistachios provides a necessary textural contrast to an overall rich dish. Because we are using seasonally available ingredients such as leeks and pumpkins, the addition of lux ingredients such as black rice and pistachios elevates the dish from ordinary to extraordinary. Robust and hearty, rich and delicious, this stuffed pumpkin is for keeps.

Let the Holidays begin!

Jeweled Black Rice Stuffed Pumpkin

Cook time 2 hours

Serves 4-6 

- 1 cup black rice

- 2 cups water, or vegetable broth

- pinch of salt

- 1 small sugar pumpkin

- olive oil as needed

- 1 tsp. coconut oil

- 1 whole leek, cut into ½” half rounds

- ½ tsp. sea salt

- 1 small fennel bulb, sliced thin

- 1” knob ginger, grated

- 1 cup chickpea sprouts, can substitute for canned

- ¼ cup pistachios

- hadful of fennel fronds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place 1 cup of black rice in a bowl with water. Soak for 30-60 minutes. Drain and rinse thoroughly. Place rice in a large pot with 2 cups of either water or vegetable broth and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Reduce heat to low and cook covered for 30-35 minutes.

As rice cooks, prepare the pumpkin for roasting. Start off by cutting off the lid. Turn the pumpkin unto its side and using a knife, make an incision 1-2” from the stem. Place knife on the incision, and using mallet push the knife through. Once you have access to the pumpkins cavity, remove seeds and guts, preserving the seeds for later use. Drizzle some olive oil into the cleaned pumpkin and set aside.

Place a skillet over low heat. Add coconut oil and sliced leeks. Cook, stirring occasionally, for five to seven minutes. Add ginger and thinly sliced fennel bulb. Stir, and cook for another five minutes, or until vegetables are cooked through, soft, and translucent.

Once rice is cooked, stir cooked vegetables into the pot with the rice. Add chickpea sprouts, pistachios, and thinly cut fennel fronds and stir until everything is well incorporated. Taste for seasoning, and adjust if necessary. Scoop rice into pumpkins, cover pumpkins using the lid and bake for 50 minutes. To test for doneness, poke pumpkin using a fork, if soft, pumpkin is ready. Serve whole, while still hot.