Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Ginseng Salad and Stuffed Pumpkin

After our fun afternoon spent picking vegetables at the weekend, we've spent the last couple of days deciding what to do with them all!

Inspired by Maya's Ginseng Leaf Salad I decided to create my own version...  This turned into an exercise in rummaging-around-the-fridge to see what might work in a salad, so the finished dish bore very little resemblance to Maya's salad, apart from the ginseng leaves of course!

It lacks the colour provided by the pomegranate seeds, orange slices and torch ginger in Maya's, but I used fresh pineapple to provide sweetness, cashew nuts for some texture and thinly sliced chives and preserved garlic for some bite.  It was dressed with lime juice and toasted sesame oil, which is one of my favourite Asian flavours.  These leaves are amazing - they don't wilt at all, so I you can leave it for ages before serving.  I enjoyed the unusual flavour and texture of the ginseng leaves - a new experience for me.  A lovely light supper or side dish.

Almost as soon as I had got home from veg picking, Maya had e.mailed me a recipe for pumpkin.  Maya participates in a weekly recipe challenge called French Fridays with Dorie run by chef Dorie Greenspan, where bloggers around the world all cook the same recipe each Friday and post about it on their blogs.  This week the recipe is the temptingly titled 'Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good'.  Maya sent me the link to the recipe (which can be found here, on Epicurious) and wondered if I might be interested in trying it too?

Interested?  How could I not be?!  This recipe looks wonderful, and infinitely adaptable too.  I made it for supper last night.

There's something very satisfying about hollowing out a pumpkin...  took me right back to my Hallowe'ens in Canada.  These pumpkins have lots of flesh, so this one didn't have a huge cavity once I had removed the seeds and stringy stuff (I'm sure that's the technical term for it...).

I used the Epicurious recipe as a basis, but freestyled for much of the way, just choosing what felt right - and what was in the fridge/larder!

Here it is, stuffed and ready to cook.  The filling ended up consisting of the following:

a slice of granary bread torn up into chunks
a handful of chives, chopped
a large red chilli, chopped
2 'bockwurst' sausages, chopped
a handful of grated mature cheddar
a large 'squidge' of creme fraiche (it comes in squishy packets here!)
a splash of milk to loosen the mix
garlic pepper to season

As the recipe states, it's hard to give a cooking time as all pumpkins are different, and I suspect different fillings might cause it to cook at different speeds too.  Anyway, mine was done in under 2 hours, and looked and smelled incredible.

The sausages imparted a wonderful smoky flavour, and the cheese and creme fraiche were deliciously melted and gooey.  I cut the pumpkin into large wedges and the filling oozed out into the baking tray as I did so - satisfyingly messy!

There is no question that I'll be making this dish again (and again and again I suspect).  Minus the sausage it would make an excellent vegetarian meal, and it could be adapted in hundreds of different ways to suit different palates.  I'm looking forward to seeing what the French Fridays with Dorie group do with it - I'm sure it will give me lots more ideas.


Elisabeth said...

That pumpkin looks incredible!
Will definitely be trying out something like this on my Thanksgiving hordes.
And, yes, I believe "stringy stuff" if the technical term of choice!

Foodiva said...

This is what I like about cooking as opposed to baking. You can say a 'squidge' of something and no one bats an eyelid! Haha... I also read all about your fierce-looking pumpkin carvings in Canada, those were real fun posts, Kate!

Norm said...

I hope you enjoy it Elisabeth - I can't wait to make it again!

And yes, I agree Maya, baking is so precise. Soothing sometimes, but I do like to freestyle on occasion too! I'd carve some pumpkins for Hallowe'en too, but the monkeys would destroy them (and they'd be infested with ants within hours too).

Lilly said...

I've found your blog through Maya and your stuffed pumpkin looks great! I love how all the goodies just ooze out of the pumpkin.
You are so lucky for going to pick veggies with her!

Tina said...

mmmmmm nom nom nom! have you ever tried chinese pork.. made thats last eve..its easy and amazing..and uses belly too..i went off pork in brunei but if you can,give it a go.i used a video blog on google!!!

now im off to but a pumpkin and some bockwurst!!