Friday, October 12, 2012

A Spooktacular Stuffed Pumpkin in 7 Easy Steps

Doesn't Mr. Jack-O-Lantern look spooktacular & happy?

I love, love, love October! Ghoul and gravestones pop up in suburban yards. Scarecrows and carved pumpkins grin at you from pretty porches. There might even be witches on broomsticks and skeletons lurking by the mailbox. The playful whimsy of the month is infectious.

And nowhere do I get more inspired than in the kitchen. In the past, I have served Monster Meatballs (with olive eyes and carrot hair), black pasta (made with squid ink), Graveyard Cake (some call it dirt cake) other words, yes, I like playing with food. :) So I loved it when my #Letslunch twitter buds, a group of food bloggers from around the globe, chose this month's theme: SCARY!

I like to involve my entire family in my kitchen and educational for the kids, less work for mom and dad doesn't feel left out. Yeah, I delegate. And, seriously, the kids loved putting together Mr. Pumpkin.

First Step: Go to the store and find the "perfect" pumpkin. For our family of four, we used a small pie pumpkin. I decided it had to be between 3 to 4 pounds. Rest I left up to the kids. They found a good one with a little bulge on the front...perfect for a nose.

Second Step: Prepare the pumpkin. The DH was put in charge sharp tools and, together with the kids, he carved out the lid, scraped and cleaned out the pumpkin (yes, the kids saved the seeds for roasting) and created a jovial Jack-O-Lantern. Yay!

Third Step: This is where I come in and prepare the filling. I think I love working in the kitchen during Fall because of all the great seasonal ingredients: vibrant pumpkins, crisp, tart apples, ruby-red cranberries and sweet, warm cinnamon. Mmmm.

So for the filling I put together a curried turkey-couscous mixture with sage, apples,cranberries, chickpeas, tomatoes and a dash of cinnamon. I always make extra because the family loves this as much as I do.

Doesn't that look delicious?

Fourth Step: Season the pumpkin. I brush melted butter on the insides of the pumpkin and then seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper. Next time, I'd add a bit of powdered garlic. Then I spooned in the filling.

Step Five: Replace the pumpkin lid, place the entire pumpkin in an oven-proof dish and cover with foil. Place the dish inside the pre-heated oven. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 10 to 15 minutes, or until pumpkin is done.

Step Six: Prepare for serving. Take all the pictures you want (Mr. Pumpkin was a star...he had 3 photographers snapping pictures from every angle imaginable...I stayed out of the fray) and then cut him into wedges.

Step Seven: Dig in!

Curried Turkey-Couscous Filling:
Vegetable oil
1 small onion, peeled and diced
2 celery stems, sliced
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
6 to 8 fresh sage leaves
2 medium cloves of garlic, minced
1 large apple chopped
2 teaspoon curry powder
20 ounces ground turkey sweet Italian sausage
2 cup Israeli couscous (larger pearls of couscous), cooked
1 15-oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes with liquid
1/4 to 1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon garam masala (this Indian spice has cinnamon as one of it's ingredients, you can replace GM with 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon of cumin)
Heat oil in a frying pan. Add onions, celery, red pepper flakes and sage leaves.
When the onion is half-soft, add in garlic, apples, and curry powder. Cook for for a minute or two.
Add in ground turkey. Cook while breaking up the pieces, until turkey is browned.
Stir in couscous, chickpeas, tomatoes, cranberries and garam masala. Cook until ingredients are warmed through and the sauce thickens. Take off heat.
Use what you will for the stuffed pumpkin. I love serving the leftovers over baked sweet potatoes or in scrambled eggs.

Check out other scary and fun offerings from our Twitter #Letslunch party:

Pumpkin Cake by A Cook and her Books
Celebrating Day of the Dead by SpiceBox Travels
Freaky Pretzel Fingers by Lisa Goldberg
Halloween Spice Cookies by Glass of Fancy
Cyclops Soup by HobNob

 Text and Images Copyright 2012, Rashda Khan