Tag Archives: pumpkin

Living Below the Line: Pasta Bake Recipe!

I’m sure you are just itching to know how these recipes work, so allow me to share with you the first of my ‘famine’ recipes.  Actually, this one isn’t so famine-ish, because it contains actual fish, and came in at just under $1.10 per serving.  Luxury!

75 g cashews
1/4 cauliflower, coarsely chopped, including bits of stem
5 garlic cloves
salt3/4 cup water, plus more for the vegetables
1 enormous beetroot, or two medium ones
3/4 of a butternut pumpkin
1/2 cup of mixed frozen vegetables
185 g tinned tuna or salmon
550 g pasta
1 slice bread

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Recipe: Miniature Pumpkins stuffed with Spiced Split Pea and Rhubarb Stew

This post is brought to you by Farmhouse Direct – or rather, by the fact that I have been too exhausted of late to contemplate getting up early to go to the market on a Saturday morning.  But I can’t come at buying most of my veg from the supermarket, either, so instead I hopped online, looked for fruit and veg, filtered my search for Victorian Farmers, and then went to see what was available.

What was available was boxes of produce from Vegie Bunch – huge bunches of rhubarb, mixed boxes of cucumbers, beetroot, carrots, garlic and potatoes, and boxes of tiny Jack Be Little pumpkins that could only be described as adorable.  I got some of everything, and it arrived on my doorstep on, I think, Thursday morning.

(And then I had to find places to put all of it, because none of this produce is small or self-effacing…)

Anyway, we had friends around to dinner on Friday, and what with it being Lent, I’m vegetarian – but what with it also being me having people around to dinner, it was absolutely necessary to make something spectacular. The Green Kitchen have a recipe for a split pea and rhubarb stew, for which I actually had most of the ingredients, and I thought it might be fun to stuff this into teeny tiny pumpkins and serve them roast potatoes, tomatoes from my garden, and a lot of tzatziki.

It was *amazingly* good, and I wouldn’t have thought to write it up, because the stew recipe was adapted from the Green Kitchen, until my friend asked if I was going to photograph the pumpkins, at which point I considered the recipe, considered how many ingredients and methods I’d changed, and realised that this was probably actually quite legit to write about.  Also, the tzatziki absolutely makes this dish, and that was definitely my idea.

Of course, this means that there are only photos of the finished product, but I’m hoping that the finished product is cute enough that you won’t mind.  Also, be warned – these little tiny pumpkins look like they will be a light meal, but this is just how they draw you in – we all managed to finish what was on our plates, but it was a near thing.  These babies are filling, and I think that with a few more baby pumpkins I could have easily fed ten to twelve people rather than the four I was actually cooking for.  I certainly had enough stuffing to fill more pumpkins…

Also, I apologise for the spice mixes – I didn’t have all the spices the recipe suggested, and I did have all these luscious spice mixes hanging around that seemed to fit the profile, so I used those instead.  Because sometimes, one wants to use one’s beautiful spice mixes.  I’m figuring that most of you probably do have some random Middle Eastern and chilli spice mixes lurking around your kitchen – here’s your opportunity to use them!


Your Shopping List

8 Jack Be Little Pumpkins, or other miniature pumpkins suitable for stuffing
3 tbsp virgin coconut oil
2 tsp of a good chilli con carne or similar spice mix, one which is heavy on both chilli and cumin
1 1/2 tbsp of a good middle eastern sweet spice mix such as ras el hanout or a turkish spice mix – you want something that has cardamom, cinnamon and the like, but also a little bit of savoury bite and heat to it. 
1/2 tsp ginger
1 large onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, crushed,
500 g orange sweet potatoes
300 g carrots
5 sticks rhubarb
1 red apples
150 g yellow split peas
2 Lebanese cucumbers
500 g Greek yoghurt
a small bunch of mint
salt, pepper, olive oil

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Christmas Leftovers Recipe: Moroccan Chicken and Pumpkin Filo Triangles

I make a variation of this recipe basically every time I do a roast or slow-cooked chicken.  With only two of us in the household, we don’t use much chicken on the first meal, and while I love roast chicken, Andrew doesn’t like it much at all, so the leftovers always go into a pie.

This is another cricket lunchbox menu – I’m pleased to say that when I told my brother what was in our lunch hamper yesterday, the man in front of us turned around and said ‘That sounds absolutely amazing’, which made me feel very smug indeed.  Because it really was a very good lunch, if I say so myself – chicken pastries, zucchini pesto muffins, spinach salad with apricots and blueberries (from the Green Kitchen App, which I enthusiastically recommend to your attention if you don’t have it already), apricot and peach schnapps shortbread, and crispy filo cigars full of fruit mince with double cream to dip them into.  Yum.


(Though apparently my presence at the cricket causes concussions and batting collapses – yesterday wasn’t a good day for the batsmen on either side, and last year, I presided over Sri Lanka’s total collapse, with bonus concussions, on day three of the Boxing Day test.  My brother wants me to come in to the MCG this afternoon to jinx the Brits, and I’m just trying to decide whether I can face the weather in the name of scientific enquiry.)

Anyway.  These are full of lovely moist chicken, and sweetly spiced pumpkin and chickpeas, all leftover from Christmas Eve Lunch, though you could make this from scratch if you wanted to.  And you might want to, because they are really delicious, warm or cold.

Your Leftovers & Shopping List

Leftover slow-cooked or roasted chicken (about half a chicken)

Leftover roasted carrots, roasted pumpkins and chickpeas, spiced with chilli, ginger, garlic and star anise; or use plain roasted pumpkins, one tin of chickpeas, and chop up one chilli, two garlic cloves and about 2cm of fresh ginger, and sauté briefly until they lose their rawness.  You want this veggie mixture to be between half the weight of the chicken and one and a quarter times the weight – essentially, you don’t want the pastries to taste just of chicken or just of pumpkin, but it’s fine if one side dominates a bit.

2 tsp preserved lemon, finely chopped

1 packet filo pastry, and I strongly recommend you buy it from the fridge section, not the freezer section, because it is much, much easier to work with

olive oil spray

Now what will you do with it?

If the chicken is still on the bone, remove it from the bones, and remove the skin and any other bits that aren’t really edible (use these bits to make stock).  Shred it into a large bowl.

Chop up the pumpkin and carrots, and add to the bowl with the chickpeas and preserved lemon (and spices, if you did them separately).  Again, you shouldn’t need to season this, because you presumably seasoned your chicken and roast veg when you cooked them the first time.


Spray one sheet of filo pastry with olive oil, and put a spoonful of the chicken and pumpkin mix onto the lower half, towards the right hand end.  Essentially, imagine the first fold, which will be folding the pastry in half lengthwise, and the second fold, which will be a triangle folding from the right hand corner up to the first fold, and aim to have your filling in the bit which will be covered by the second fold.

That was totally unintelligible so here is a picture.


Once you have a triangle, flip it over along its vertical side onto the next bit of pastry, then flip it down over its diagonal onto the next bit, then across, and so forth until you are out of pastry.


Put the resulting triangle onto a tray lined with baking paper, and spray it with more olive oil.

Repeat with the rest of the mixture and the filo pastry. (If you have excess filo pastry, I highly recommend making fruit mince cigars with the rest of it – but that’s a recipe for next Christmas, when I will actually pay attention to what I am doing so that I can write it down.)


Bake at 180°C for about half an hour, turning partway through the cooking time, until the filo is golden and crisp on each side.  Serve hot or at room temperature – the filo will go soft if you have to refrigerate it, but it will still taste lovely.


This is obviously not a vegetarian meal, though it is dairy and egg free, and also nut free, for a change.  It’s also fairly low GI, due to the chickpeas, and would be lower if you used sweet potato to replace part or all of the pumkpin.

It’s hard to think of a likely variation, since this is all leftovers-based, but you could, of course, make a larger pie, in which case I would layer the chicken with the pumpkin separately, and perhaps add ricotta or spinach layers or both.  Diana Henry has a beautiful recipe along those lines.


One year ago: A menu for the cricket
Two years ago: Easy pasta dinner

Recipe: Autumnal Pasta with Roasted Pumpkin, Mushrooms and Gorgonzola

closeYou’ve got to love Melbourne’s climate.  Here we are in the middle of winter, outside it looks like spring, and at the Farmers’ Market, it’s mushrooms and pumpkins, just as though we were in autumn.  Go, Melbourne!  You’ll confuse us all yet…

This particular pasta bake packs quite a strong punch – stronger than I intended, really, due to the exuberance of the portobello mushrooms which are currently stinking out the house to an alarming degree (I do like portobello mushrooms, but smell-wise, they are drowning out everything else).  But just in case the situation was insufficiently stinky, we have the gorgonzola to back it up.  After all that, you need the sweet pumpkin and onions and the bland pasta to cope.

Pongy cheese aside, it tastes great.  I love the softness of the pumpkin and the crunch of the breadcrumbs, and the flavours have a rich earthiness to them – this is very much the sort of meal that obviates any need for meat.

A green salad, on the other hand, or a glass of orange juice, would go down a treat.  Because when I said that this was rich, I meant it…

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Recipe: Pumpkin and Tofu Curry with Lemongrass

served2I know.  It’s another curry.  This is really weird.  I’ve never really liked curry, and I don’t *understand* how curry works, but I seem to have made two which I like in the space of three days.  And I don’t know what I’ve done that is different to the many, many curries I have disliked.  

To make things even more bizarre, I’m mostly, but not quite, following recipes, because I don’t really know enough to know what I’m doing when changing them.  Tonight’s effort was particularly strange because I cook by smell and I just couldn’t make sense of what I was smelling early on.  And then it all tasted far too sweet and mild and mangoish, but I didn’t dare fiddle with it, which turned out to be a good instinct, because in the end it was nicely tangy and lemon-grassish with a pleasing kick of heat from the ginger and chilli and no mango or serious coconut taste at all.

None of this makes any sense, but since I appear to have once more made an almost-certainly-inauthentic curry that I actually like and might want to make again, here goes.  In case you were wondering, it started life as a Cambodian Pork and Lemongrass Curry, but obviously the pig got away this time (the lemongrass did not).

Oh, also, I think this is the third time I’ve ever cooked with tofu while not making dessert.  Learning experiences all round…

Your Shopping List

2 tbsp canola or sunflower oil
1 onion
3 cloves of garlic
a piece of ginger-root about two cubic inches in size
3 big tablespoons of lemongrass paste (check that yours doesn’t contain gluten or fish sauce if these are problematic for you – alternatively, you could go with the 2 tablespoons of chopped lemongrass which the recipe I’m mostly ignoring suggested)
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander seed, ground
1 tsp fennel seed
300 g firm tofu
500 g pumpkin
125 g potato
250 g sweet potato
zest and juice of one lime
270 ml light coconut cream
130 ml water
1 big tablespoon of tamarind puree
2 red capsicums
1 red chilli
75 g pistachios, because we really gave up on authenticity and that’s what was in the pantry when I decided that this dish needed some crunch
To serve: rice, about 1 1/2  – 2 cups.  Purple Thai rice looks particularly pretty here.  This curry serves 4-6 people, I should think.

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Anyone Can Cook Vegetarian Food: Orange!

Today is the first day of my new pantry, which is just another way of saying I accidentally spent nearly $100 on spices and salts and infused sugars this morning.  It was very, very tempting to make spices my theme for this month, but I did that in April, and one wouldn’t want to be repetitive.  Then I thought about all the dark, leafy greens coming into season and got all enthused about a green leafy vegetable theme, only everyone thinks that vegetarians eat nothing but rabbit food anyway.

Green was clearly right out.  Let’s do a different colour instead.

The JUNE 2013 theme is ORANGE!

(because oranges are not the only orange-coloured fruit) Continue reading

Recipe: Roasted Root Vegetables with Sweet Spices, Tahini, and Maple Syrup

closedoneThis is a very simple recipe that can either be served as a side dish or over cous-cous or rice as a meal (though in that case, I’d probably stir in a tin or two of chickpeas ten minutes before the end of cooking).  But simple doesn’t mean ‘non-tasty’, at least not in my book, and this is rather gorgeous – the tahini balances the sweetness of the spices and maple syrup, preventing this from turning into Dessert Vegetables, which would be a bit weird even for me, and I love the way that every bite tastes slightly different – gingery or anisey or cinnamon-laden or sesame-seedish, though I admit, this is probably an artefact of me not mixing things together well enough.  The flavours do all go together beautifully, however.  And the colours are a perfect celebration of autumn!

I admit, there is a fair bit of peeling and chopping involved in this recipe, but it’s also a fairly relaxing recipe to make – you can peel serenely while listening to a CD, and then, when everything is in the oven, you can sit down with a book or pop onto the internet and read a blog post or two while it all bakes.  The oven is doing all the work.

If you happen to have leftovers after this, you can combine them with stock and more chickpeas to make a stunningly flamingo-pink soup, worth eating for the colour alone, but also gorgeously velvety and tasty. 

Your Shopping List

1/2 a butternut pumpkin (mine was moderately sized, but this recipe is fairly approximate, so you decide what you like!)
4 carrots, as many colours as you can find
6 baby beetroots
3 parsnips
2 onions
500 g orange sweet potato

2 tbsp tahini

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup canola or sunflower oil

2 tsp cinnamon
3 star anises (what is the plural of star anise, anyway?)
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cumin
a knob of fresh ginger approximately 1 x 2 inches
a good pinch of nutmeg

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Recipe: Autumn Pasta

cheeseWow, it has been a while, hasn’t it?  I do apologise.  I’ve spent most of the last two weeks in a state of exhaustion, between the demented craziness of getting the Project Grants in (an article came out on Thursday claiming that scientists last year collectively spent approximately 400 years on unsuccessful grants.  While I feel that this figure is slightly exaggerated, it certainly felt like a decade or two was spent on them in the last month, and this was actually less time than I spent last year…), and some rather stressful things going on outside work.  So when I go to start thinking about recipes for the next week, this happens:


Which may provide us with cute cat photos, but doesn’t lead to me doing much cooking. 

Anyway, Farmhouse Direct, in their evil wisdom, chose this moment of weakness on my part to waive all delivery fees for a weekend.  I was instantly and utterly distracted from grants by the prospect of big, puffy, homemade marshmallows in such delectable flavours as lemon, pistachio, rosewater or raspberry; by steamed chocolate and cherry puddings, and by buttermilk ricotta and truffle-infused butter.  All of which, I must confess, did find their way into my shopping cart and have arrived in the last couple of days. 

But it wasn’t all about the sugar – my soul was particularly drawn to the most gorgeous box of autumn vegetables: butternut pumpkins, capsicums, all sorts of sweet frying peppers, several kinds of chillis, huge bulbs of garlic, and a zucchini or two for luck.  I could already see it in my mind’s eye, colourful and comforting and brimming with goodness. 


And oh, it really, truly was. Better still, it’s the sort of goodness that I can cook with no matter how tired I am.  With the possible exception of chilli (which, by tradition, I get all over my hands, which are then irresistibly drawn to my eyes, nose and lips, ow, ow, ow), these are all default vegetables for me.  Even tonight, when I am both very tired and profoundly silly.

So tonight’s embarrassingly late dinner was all about comfort food – basically taking things out of my veggie box, roasting them, and stirring them through pasta.  And why not?  Few things taste better than roast vegetables that have gone all nice and caramelised around the edges.  Stir them through pasta, add some shavings of parmesan or some chickpeas for protein, and you have the perfect meal for an autumn evening.

(Oh, and speaking of autumn, Melbourne people – yes, I’m tired and have the attention span of a goldfish right now, sorry – wasn’t yesterday’s weather *brilliant*?  All those insane gusty winds that made our meeting room whistle like a demented and untalented flautist until we gave up on the meeting, and then that black sky and dashing rain, and then Melbourne going all blue skied and sunny-golden in the late afternoon pretending that it had never even *seen* a storm, oh no…  And yet there are people out there who don’t like Melbourne’s weather.  I don’t understand them at all.  And I’m ending this paragraph now before this whole post turns into a paen of praise for Melbourne’s generous bounty in giving us all the weather we could possibly want.)

On to the recipe!

Your Shopping List

1 awesome veggie box!

Or, alternatively…

1 butternut pumpkin
1 bulb of garlic
3 capsicums
3 sweet frying peppers (sometimes they are called sweet chillies – they are long and sweet and delicious and come in red, orange, yellow, gold and green)
1 chilli, any kind
4 smallish brown onions
2 tablespoons of olive oil, approximately
1 teaspoon dried rosemary (or thereabouts)
salt, pepper
300 g penne rigate, rigatone, or any other short pasta with enough ridginess to catch the vegetables.  Spiral pasta would work, bowties, not so much
A few shavings of parmesan – I didn’t measure this, but 30 g would probably be enough.

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Recipe: Warm Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Salad

So I was minding my own business at work this Friday (and I apologise once again for the dearth of posts here, but work has been *crazy*) when I got an SMS from Andrew: “Do you have a recipe for pumpkin and sweet potato salad?”. As it happens, I don’t, so I SMSed back: “No, but I can write one!  What do you need…?”

Anyway, it transpired that one of the teachers at the school where Andrew is doing his placement had a sweet potato and pumpkin salad at some point which she really liked.  She thinks it had Philadelphia cheese in it, and that the vegetables were roasted.  I had no problem with roast pumpkin in a salad (indeed, roast vegetable and chickpea salad is one of my favourite lunches after a roast the night before), but was dubious about the Philly.  I still am dubious, in fact, but fortunately I am not even a little bit dubious about Persian feta, which is creamy and tangy and makes much more sense in this context…

Here’s my version. It’s rather lovely, if I say so myself – sweet and mellow from the vegetables and peppery from the rocket and creamy and tangy from the cheese.  And so colourful!

Your Shopping list

2 medium sweet potatoes (about 700g in total)
a big wedge of pumpkin (about 800g)
olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper
1 medium bunch of rocket
1-3 spring onions, depending on whether they are the lovely chubby oniony ones or the ones that are like giant chives.
100 g persian feta
olive oil, balsamic vinegar

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Leftovers for Lunch: Roasted Vegetable and Chickpea Salad

I love roast vegetables.  About once a fortnight, I will do a huge roast vegetable fest – one enormous tray of potatoes, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, carrots, onions and beetroot, cut into chunks and the potato and beetroot parboiled, and then roasted with olive oil, garlic, rosemary and salt.  Another huge tray will have capsicums, halved or quartered roma tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant and red onion, with oregano, black pepper, a bit of brown sugar,  balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  Mostly, I chuck in some organic sausages to roast with this, but sometimes I’ll serve it with broccoli in cheese sauce, or with chickpeas or a cannelini bean puree, or even a roast chicken.  Continue reading