Lately, I haven't really been a massive fan of pumpkins.
I've enjoyed them as desserts over the years (in my pre-paleo days) in chocolate truffles, in coffee and in ice cream, YES. But as a savoury food? Nope.
Until this happened.
I saw a beautiful recipe on the blog Green Kitchen Stories - a vegetarian stuffed pumpkin recipe. And I thought to myself: I bet I could make something like this, but paleo.
As well as looking amazing this really does taste incredible. The juices from the beef mixture seem to trickle into the pumpkin flesh and so you're left with this sweet, fluffy, tender pumpkin that has amazing flavour. My 10-year old had seconds. My 7-year old asked me to make it again for dinner the next day. It is TOTALLY a winner.
The amount of beef is just about right for a medium-sized pumpkin. If you have any leftover meat that won't fit in the pumpkin then just store it in a little tub and eat it for breakfast or scattered into a salad the next day.
This recipe is entirely AIP-compliant, paleo, gluten and dairy free. Oh, and you know that pumpkin is pretty much a superfood, right?
Roasted Stuffed Pumpkin with Balsamic Beef
1 medium whole pumpkin
4 rashers smoked, streaky bacon
1 red onion, peeled and chopped
1 large clove of garlic, peeled and chopped
large handful fresh parsley leaves, chopped
1 tsp dried sage
500g good quality minced beef
splash - about a tablespoon - good balsamic vinegar
pinch of salt
First, turn your oven on and get it preheated to gas mark 6/200ºC. Line a baking tray with a little foil and put to one side.
Give the pumpkin a quick wash under the tap and dry it. With a sharp knife, carefully chisel off the top of the pumpkin, taking off the 'lid' and leaving a hole just big enough to get your hand in. Scoop out all the seeds and stringy bits.
Next, chop the bacon and heat it gently in a large frying pan. The fat should start to render down but you can always add a touch of avocado oil or lard if you need a bit more fat. Once the bacon is beginning to turn crisp, stir in the red onion, garlic, parsley leaves and sage. Cook until the onion is tender - about 5-7 minutes.
When the onion is tender, add the beef mince and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon or spatula so that it cooks evenly. Continue to cook for another 5-7 minutes, until the beef is thoroughly cooked. Add the splash of balsamic vinegar, a small pinch of salt but not much - stir and then turn off the heat.
Using a slotted spoon, spoon the cooked beef mixture into the pumpkin, pressing it down to pack in as much as possible, but leaving space at the top to securely place the 'lid' back on top. You don't want it spilling out of the top, as the lid will protect the beef while it cooks. Also, you probably won't have much liquid from cooking the beef but you don't need that in the pumpkin. Just spoon in the beef mixture, leaving the liquid behind in the pan.
Slide the stuffed pumpkin into the hot oven and cook for 45-50 minutes, until the pumpkin is tender and sizzling. It might look a little burnished and roasty on the outside - that's even better. Using the spoon or spatula, press gently on the pumpkin lid - you might mind some of the hot beef juices spill out. This is normal.
Lift the pumpkin onto a plate or shallow bowl to catch the juices - careful - it'll be heavy and hot! - and take it to the table. Carve off slices for each person, topping with some of the extra meat that tumbles out as you serve.
- You can also add some chopped or halved black olives to the mixture.
- If you eat cheese (it's not AIP though) feel free to stir some into the beef mixture before you stuff the pumpkin.
- Use whatever mince you like - pork and turkey would work really well here, too.
- Because of how this looks, this would make a really good centrepiece for a Halloween, Christmas or New Year dinner table.