Pilaf in a Pumpkin
1 small sugar or pie pumpkin, about 3-4 pounds. Save seeds for roasting if desire.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, minced
2 stalks celery, small dice
1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly
1 zucchini, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 cup brown rice, rinsed
1 cup broth
Variations in the pilaf: Use couscous, farrow, orzo or quinoa in place of the rice.
Meaty version: Omit the mushrooms and add a small amount of ground meat of your choice to the recipe.
Sweeter taste: Reduce broth to 3/4 cup and add 1/4 cup dry white wine.
Allium Free: Omit onion and garlic and substitute 1 bulb fennel.
Add other veggies: Get a bigger or additional pumpkin, and add other veggies such as cherry tomatoes, baby eggplant, peas, spinach,corn, cranberries, raisins, sliced almonds or pecans. Add enough and you have a meal!
Other squash: For a smaller amount of pilaf, you can use an acorn squash or buttercup squash.
Cut “lid” out of pumpkin and clean seeds and fiber. Bake in a 400F oven for about 30 minutes until sides are slightly soft when pressed. Do not over bake as the pumpkin will fall apart.
Scoop out cooked pumpkin leaving about 1” all around sides and bottom. Set aside. Save cooked pumpkin for pies, muffins or quick breads. Cook and freeze in a freezer bag is desired.
In a large frying pan, heat olive oil over a medium heat. Add onion and cook for 3-5 minutes or until the onion is translucent. Add celery and bell pepper. Cook for another 4 minutes, stirring, adding olive oil if needed.
Add zucchini, garlic and mushrooms, stirring to coat with olive oil, adding more if necessary. Add rice, stir and cook for 2 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Immediately lower to simmer and cover, cooking for about 30 minutes. Check every 10 minutes or so to see if additional broth or water is needed.
When rice is soft, remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes. Add the pilaf to the pumpkin until you reach the top. Do not press down to add more as you may weaken the bottom. Keep any leftovers in the refrigerator and add to an omelet or soup.
You may keep the pilaf in a container and the pumpkin in plastic wrap or aluminum foil in the refrigerator for a day until ready to serve.