This recipe can be made with a pumpkin or any large squash or several smaller ones like the munchkin pumpkins. The rice recipe is from the Moro cookbook and they use the saffron rice to stuff a butterflied leg of lamb, because it is fragrant and deliciously flavours the meat, but as I don’t really eat meat I thought it would be fantastic as a stuffing for a squash or pumpkin. It also looks amazing as a centre piece on the dinner table, and would be delicious roast potatoes and a salad or any roast. I love it with garlicky yogurt and have just discovered Alpro are doing a vegan Greek yogurt in Morrison’s which is utterly delicious.
Serves 4-6 depending on the size of the squash
1 squash or pumpkin about 2 kg
5 whole cardamom pods cracked
1/2 cinnamon stick
3 whole pepper corns
200g of basmati rice washed and soaked in salted water for three hours
2 tablespoons of chopped pistachios
2 tablespoons of barberries or dried cranberries
1 big pinch of saffron infused in 4 tablespoons of boiling water
Half a cup of crispy onions from the supermarket (optional)
A sprig of parsley (optional)
Preheat the oven to 200c/400f.
Wash the squash or pumpkin and slice the top off of the stalk end creating a lid. Scoop out the seeds and stringy bits and and scrape out any bits that aren’t firm, leaving just the outer flesh. Replace the lid and place on a baking tray. Bake for 45 minutes or until getting tender. The time can vary depending on the type of squash.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat, add the cinnamon, cardamom pods and pepper corns and gently fry the spices till they release their aroma, about four mins. Drain the rice thoroughly and add it to the butter and stir to coat for about a minute. Turn the heat up higher and add the barberries or dried cranberries. Pour enough water in to the pan to cover the rice by approximately 1 cm and season with salt. Rest a disc of grease proof paper on top, place a lid on the pan, bring to the boil and simmer for five minutes. Lift the lid off and the paper and pour in the saffron water evenly over the rice. Replace the paper and lid. Turn down the heat to low and cook for a further five minutes.
Season the inside of the squash and fill with the rice mixture, pressing down gently to make sure it’s filling the whole of the cavity. Pop the squash lid back on. Place in the oven for another twenty minutes. Serve with the lid off sprinkled with crispy onions and parsley if using.