We were sorting through the freezer this weekend working out what was stored in there and doing a bit of a rationalisation. I saw a bag of raw Pumpkin that had been saved this years Halloween ‘Jack O Lantern’. and wondered what I could do with it, maybe a Spiced Pumpkin soup or something more exotic. Sam and Sam Clarke at Moro, a Southern Mediterranean restaurant in London’s East End had a recipe for Jewelled Pumpkin Rice in their Moro East Cookbook, which looked stunning and defiantly one to try. The muted golds and yellow with the warming middle eastern spices are evocative of holidays in the North African side of the Med.
Serves 4 – 6 Gluten Free*
- 500g peeled and seeded Pumpkin, butternut, or other winter squash, cut into dice
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- big pinch of saffron (about 50 strands)
- 100g unsalted butter
- cinnamon stick about 5 cms long
- 4 allspice berries, crushed
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced across the grain
- 15g dried barberrys (or currants)
- 50g shelled pistachios
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom (freshly podded and ground if possible)
- 300g basmati rice, soaked in tepid, salted water for 1 hour
- 450ml vegetable/bouillon stock (use a Gluten Free stock for a Gluten Free recipe)
Preheat the oven to 230 degrees centigrade/Gas 8. Toss the squash with half of the salt and the olive oil. Spread in a baking tray, and roast for 30 minutes. Mix the saffron with 3 tbsp boiling water, and add 25g of the butter. Set aside.
Heat the remaining butter in a medium pan with the cinnamon and allspice until it foams, then add the onion and remaining 1/2 tsp of salt. Fry over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and starting to colour. Add the barberries (or currants), pistachios, and cardamom, and cook for 10 minutes more, until the onion is golden and sweet.
Drain the rice and add it to the pan, stirring for a minute or two before pouring in the stock. Taste for seasoning, scatter with the roasted squash, cover with greaseproof paper and a tight-fitting lid, and cook over a high heat for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for a final 5 minutes. Remove the lid and greaseproof paper, and drizzle with the buttery saffron water. Replace the lid and leave to rest, off the heat, for 5-10 minutes.
It can be served as a vegetarian main or as a spiced side dish to a Tagine.
*Gluten Free - Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients list are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change their base ingredients frequently.