I love trying new dishes for holiday celebrations when gathering with family and friends.
Depending on the time of year, taking advantage of nature’s abundance of vegetables and fruits, there’s always a variety to choose from. I like to create an impressive presentation when preparing a meal for a group.
Here’s a perfect thanksgiving dish from the abundance of the fall harvest!
Stuffed Roasted Root Vegetables in Pumpkin is a one of those special dishes that guests stand up for and the outcome is delicious.
I’ve made this dish two ways:
- Roasted vegetables on a bed of quinoa
- Stuffed roasted vegetables in a pumpkin or squssh, quinoa on the side
There are a variety of squashes or pumpkins, you can use for this dish:
Squash and pumpkins are grown mostly in late spring and early summer and depending on the variety; they take between 50 and 100 days to mature. While there is summer squash and winter squash, both are warm-weather plants, and many types of them are available year long.
Winter squashes are acorn, banana or buttercup, butternut, spaghetti squash, kabocha, delicata, carnival or pumpkin and summer squashes are patty pans, yellow squash, zephyr and zucchini. Today there are so many varieties, and most are available year round. Squashes tend to be sweeter than pumpkins and the ones with a colourful skin have a milder flavour. Squash or pumpkin is at its peak in the fall season.
For this dish, I used a small pumpkin and mixed in butternut squash with beets, carrots, parsnip, yam or sweet potato and turnip.
Pumpkin or squash can be used for thickening soups, enhancing flavour and most importantly adding vibrant colour. Its rich yellow colour is high in alpha and beta cretonne which is vitamin A that functions as a powerful antioxidant (protects cells against toxins) and is an anti-inflammatory agent. It also includes Vitamin C and potassium. It is a good source of dietary fibre and Manganese. It includes good dietary fibre keeping your stomach feeling full for longer. Colourful root vegetables are loaded with antioxidants protecting your immune system and overall health against free radical toxins.
I love the rich magenta colour of beets that contain phytonutrients of betalains and betaxanthin and the yellow pigment also found in yellow beets. The pigment density helps as a chemo protective food for the liver, promotes heart health lowering cholesterol levels, and is also an excellent source of fibre, vitamin C, magnesium (essential for relaxation) folate and potassium. Beets can be used in salads, juicing and or quick steaming with other greens.
You can substitute some ingredients with what you have. Use dried fruit that’s available to you. I’m always substituting other foods when I don’t have what’s called for in a recipe and that’s all the fun when trying new things!
The recipe calls for Harissa, a middle eastern mix of hot spices. If you don’t have it, you can substitute it with fresh sweet chilies and caraway seeds. Ground with a mortar and pestle but not too fine, If you don’t have caraway seeds use coriander seeds. Sriracha or other hot sauces can also use or some smoked paprika is also good.
I prefer using gluten-free grains (less bloating for me) and will cook quinoa or brown or black rice. For an event like this I suggest mixing red and white quinoa for more of a party feel.
Adding a tahini sauce drizzled on top of the vegetables is another way to flavour the dish. If you want to spend the time it takes a few minutes more and is a delicious condiment.
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into ¾ inch chunks
- 2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 3.4 inch chunks
- 2 beets, mix of red, yellow and candy stripe, peeled and quartered
- 1 turnip, chopped
- 1 sweet potato or yam, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 a small butternut squash, peeled and chopped
- 8 shallots, peeled, chopped (or half of large onion)
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 4-star anise(optional)
- 3 bay leaves
- 5 tbsp of olive oil or coconut oil
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp ground pepper
- ¼ tsp ground turmeric
- ¼ tsp paprika
- ¼ tsp Chile flakes
- 2 ½ cups cubed pumpkin or butternut squash
- ½ cup dried apricots, dates or figs roughly chopped or dried fruit of your choice
- 1 cup chickpeas (freshly cooked or canned) (optional)
- 1 cup quinoa, or brown rice (soak the grain in water for 6 to8 hours prior to reduce sulphates)
- A pinch of saffron
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp. harissa (see substitutes).
- 1 preserved lemon, or lemon peel finely chopped
- 2 cups cilantro leaves
- 2 garlic cloves
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- ½ cup tahini
- ¼ cup water (use more if needed)
Directions for Stuffed Roasted Vegetables in Pumpkin:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. If using the pumpkin or a larger squash as the container for the vegetables, roast in the oven in a glass dish or baking sheet.. You can do this when roasting the vegetables if you have room in the oven.
- First, wash the outside of the pumpkin (you can eat the skin), Slice around the stem including the flesh and this will be your lid. Scoop out the seeds and some of the flesh. Rub the inside with some coconut oil or olive oil. Place the pumpkin with its lid on a baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes. The pumpkin is cooked when a knife can be easily inserted into the flesh. Save the seeds, roast them (with some oil and salt) if you wish to eat them (they can be used as a condiment for later).
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the carrots, parsnips, beets, sweet potato, turnips separately on 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper (so colour does not run) and shallots. Add the cinnamon sticks, star anise, bay leaves, 2-4 tablespoons of oil, ¾ teaspoon salt and add the spices and mix well, Place in the oven and cook for 20 to 25 minutes.
- As the vegetables are cooking, make the quinoa or grain that you want. Using one cup of quinoa to 2 cups water (same for rice). If you have soaked the quinoa for 6-8 hours in advance covered with water and then cook for 15 minutes. If direct (without soaking) cooking time will take 20-25 minutes. Cook for 15 minutes once the water is absorbed. Let sit on the element and add one tablespoon of oil, the saffron and ½ teaspoon salt. Put the lid on the pot and let it steam absorbing the liquid and flavours.
- After the vegetables have cooked for about 20 minutes and are somewhat softened, add the dried fruit of choice and chickpeas (drained of their cooking liquid). Mix in with vegetables so some oil is spread on the fruit and chickpeas. Return to the oven and cook for another5 8 to10 minutes or until hot.
- To serve, spoon the vegetables into the hollowed pumpkin or squash. Stir in the harissa and preserved lemon or peel into the vegetables, taste and add salt if needed. Finish with plenty of cilantro leaves on top. Serve roasted vegetables with a piece of pumpkin on a bed of quinoa.
- To make the Tahini Sauce: Whisk all the ingredients together until well blended to desired consistency. Add mor water if needed. Delicious with tofu, tempeh, on rice, vegetables, or salad dressing
Happy Thanksgiving and Enjoy!
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© 2022 Rani Glick, Certified Holistic Practitioner and Brain Health Expert