Saturday, 3 May 2014

Recipe: Middle Eastern Stuffed Pumpkins

I'm on a vegetable stuffing spree!  The Italian Stuffed Zucchini I made last week got me looking madly for something else to stuff.  The golden nugget pumpkins virtually jumped into my trolley screaming 'stuff me' at the green grocers and so who was I to resist?

I found a recipe that sounded almost exactly like what I was imagining in my head and because I didn't really want to change anything I thought it would make a perfect Copycat Cook Challenge

I was pretty happy I had similar accessories!

Serve Size:  The recipe uses a 4kg pumpkin to serve twelve.  I don’t have that many friends and my husband was away on camp so I used one golden nugget pumpkin and used half of the mixture to fill this and two capsicum halves.  This made enough for me to eat as my main meal for the two nights hubby was away.  I froze the other half of the mince mixture. 

Prep & cooking:  The prep time is very quick and easy, especially if you use 90 second microwave brown rice like I did.  However the cooking time is significant so it certainly isn’t a last minute dinner.  It would work well on a cold afternoon when you are home and you can enjoy the aromatic smell coming from your oven.  So it is an easy meal to prepare but make sure you plan ahead.

Ingredient list:  The middle-eastern flavours were what really appealed to me.  I had just replaced my harissa (I get mine from the speciality deli at the shopping centre) and the rest of the ingredients are supermarket fare.

Ease of use:  No special skills or equipment required.  The directions are straight forward and not open to interpretation.  I had to rely on testing the pumpkin as the cooking time was much longer based on a bigger pumpkin.


Substitutions: I am a coriander hater so I used chopped spinach to add the green and some extra goodness  I wanted to use pistachios but I had run out so subbed in flaked almonds instead.  I also stuffed used a capsicum as I had too much filling.

Taste:  It was spicy and filling and the yoghurt is a must.  I'm assuming it was less 'pumpkiny' than original recipe as the golden nugget pumpkin has less flesh to scoop out.  I think some more pumpkin would have worked well to balance the mouth feel of lamb mince. 

Pre-schooler rating: I added some passata to some of the mince mixture and served it over wholemeal penne for MJ.  He ate enough and was happy to have leftovers the following night but he didn’t love it.

Would I cook it again: I’m going to use the frozen mince mixture to make it again so the hubby can try it.   I’d like to try it with the pistachio nuts. 

Overall rating: 3.5/5

Recipe:  Middle-eastern Stuffed Pumpkin from

2 Golden Nugget Pumpkins  (or 1 and halve the following  ingredients)
2 cups brown rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium brown onions, chopped
500g lamb mince
3 teaspoons harissa
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
3/4 cup salt-reduced chicken stock
400g can chickpeas, drained, rinsed
400g can lentils, drained, rinsed
1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves, chopped
100g flaked almonds
Plain Greek-style yoghurt, to serve

Preheat oven to 210°C/190°C fan-forced.
Using a sharp knife, carefully cut a circle from top of pumpkin, leaving a 4cm border. Wrap pumpkin lid in foil. Place on a baking tray. Scoop seeds and membrane from pumpkin and discard. Place pumpkin, cut side-down, on baking tray. Cover with foil. Bake for  40mins or until flesh is just tender.

Meanwhile, cook rice following packet directions. Drain. Transfer to a bowl. Cover. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook onion, stirring, for 5 minutes or until soft. Add mince. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up mince, for 6 minutes or until browned. Add harissa cumin, cinnamon, chilli flakes, stock, chickpeas and lentils. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until heated through. Season with salt. Add rice to lamb mixture. Stir in spinach leaves and half the almonds. Set aside.

Transfer pumpkin to a board. Cut 1 cup flesh from inside pumpkin. Roughly chop flesh. Add to rice mixture. Fill pumpkin cavity with rice mixture, pressing down firmly with the back of a spoon (see note). Return lid to pumpkin. Wrap pumpkin in foil. Return to baking tray. Bake for 1 hour or until tender when pierced with a skewer. Stand for 5 minutes.

Remove foil from pumpkin. Transfer to a plate (base will be quite soft). Cut into wedges. Dollop with yoghurt. Sprinkle with remaining almonds. Serve.

Is there anything else I should try stuffing?!

I'm sending this to Three Sisters and Us TGIF Blog Hop (sorry can't get button to work!)

Happy cooking



  1. What a delicious looking recipe! I pinned it and can't wait to try it. Thanks for sharing it with us on the TGIF Blog & Instagram HOP :)