Recipe, words and photos by Chard, The Sensitive Foodie
Welcome to the Halloween Spiders’ Nest!
Beware….. it’s almost hatching time!
Halloween is a pretty new concept in Australia, until about 5 years ago, it was something we only saw on American TV shows, then suddenly children dressed in all manner of costumes started appearing at the door on October 31st. A few years ago, I had popped over to my parents house, picking up the 4 pack of magnum ice-creams, my Dad has asked me to get on my way over. I had only been there 10 minutes, when there was a knock at the door. My Dad, came running back into the house, in a panic saying “there are kids in costumes at the door, and I don’t know what I am supposed to be doing”.
We were all in stitches laughing at him, and then had to inform him that it was Halloween, and the kids were trick or treating. The panic worsened, when he realised that he had nothing to give them, but he didn’t have the heart to tell them. So I went to the door to let them know (they were incredibly patient while all this was going on). Then out of no-where my Dad runs back, with the 4 pack of ice-creams and gives the box to the kids. The confused looks on the children (and parents waiting out the front) was priceless, 4 ice-creams between 6 children, on a 34C degree day (93F).
The next year my Dad was all ready with bags of sweets and no kids turned up, until neighbor let him know that he needs to put a pumpkin out on the fence, so that people know you are ok with trick or treating. Nowdays, come October 31, you can find my Dad set up by the front door, with bags of sweets and the remote for the water sprinkler, positioned perfectly, ensuring that there is a flurry of squealing witches, fairies, zombies and supermen bolting up the driveway to get their lollies.
Pumpkin stuffed with lamb, black rice, pistachio & pomegranate
Suitable for: gluten, dairy, egg & soy free diets. For a vegetarian version, just leave out the lamb and add extra rice
whole pumpkin, approx 5kg/11 lb
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups black rice
1 cinnamon stick
500g/18 oz lean lamb mince
2 small brown onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons sumac
3 teaspoons ground cumin
3 teaspoons dried mint
2 teaspoons ground sea salt
2/3 cup pomegranate juice
1/2 cup pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
3 wedges preserved lemon, skin/white pith part only, rinsed & finely chopped
2 pomegranate fruits
Pre-heat over to 190° C (375° F). Carefully cut top from the pumpkin, leaving the top intact. Scrape away the seeds and the stringy flesh, leaving a bowl shape inside. Sprinkle inside with ground salt, and run with a little olive oil inside and out, and place on a baking tray in the heated oven for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the stuffing. Cook the rice, adding the cinnamon stick to the water, as per packet instructions until only just cooked, and then drain and run under cold to stop the cooking process. Remove cinnamon, and put the rice to the side.
In a saucepan, add 1 tablespoon olive oil, and heat over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened. Add the garlic and cook stirring for 1-2 minutes. Add the lamb mince and break up with a wooden spoon while cooking. Once cooked, drain any excess liquid.
Add the sumac, cumin, mint, salt, preserved lemon, pistachios and pomegranate juice and stir until well combined. Simmer until most of the liquid has absorbed into the mixture.
Remove the pumpkin from the oven, and carefully fill the cavity with the filling mixture. Place the lid back on top of pumpkin, and then put back into the oven for 30 mins, or until pumpkin is cooked through when checked with a skewer.
To remove the pomegranate seeds, I fill the sink with water, and then put a colander/sieve into the water. Cut the fruit in half, and then break fruit apart and pries out the seeds in the water inside the colander. The seeds should pop out and sink to the bottom, while the flesh floats on top. Scoop out the flesh and then remove the colander from the water.
Once the pumpkin is cooked, remove the lid, and then sir through about a cup of pomegranate seeds. Leaving some to sprinke on top for the stunning bright red spider eggs.
To serve, cut into wedges, spoon he mixture on top, and enjoy.