I’ve always enjoyed cooking together with friends even when it’s not to celebrate the festivals. It gives me a chance to share recipes as well as learn new ones.
A friend of mine made this amazing roast pumpkin dish and I know it is just perfect for the holidays. Here’s a shout out to Cathy Hine from Australia, who came to Malaysia for a short stint a few years ago and had invited me to her apartment on several occasions for a cookout.
Although roast pumpkin often makes a presence at Christmas dinners, her twist on it with quinoa made this dish literally pop in my mouth. It was my first time tasting quinoa and I fell in love with the textural experience of the grains.
If you’ve never cooked quinoa before, just remember this ratio: two cups of liquids for every cup of grains. You may substitute the water with any broth or infusion, but retain this proportion because you want the quinoa to be al dente and not mushy or crusty. I’ve used white quinoa in this recipe but you can also use red or black quinoa or a mixture of the coloured grains.
This dish is called a salad but it’s unlike any green salad that we know of. It can be served as a side dish and is a good complement to the main meat dishes. And it definite can substitute any rice or carbo dishes that you may serve with the mains.
I’m using our local favourite calabaza pumpkin, which has an incredibly sweet flavour and as it roasts, its sugars caramelise into a nice smoky glaze over each soft morsel. And don’t forget the toasted pumpkin seeds, which gives a nice crunch to the dish.
A surprising flavouring for me was the addition of the orange zest and juice which gives this dish a burst of freshness. You may also garnish the dish with cut up pieces of orange segments, which add more flavour and visual appeal.
I’ve also made this same dish with sweet potatoes instead of pumpkin and the result was quite well-received. That’s one of the hallmark of a great recipe–that it’s versatile and lends itself to experimentation. I hope you and your family will enjoy this dish that truly celebrates the festivities. Happy holidays.
- 1 kg calabaza pumpkin
- 1 bulb fresh garlic
- 120 millilitres extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp black pepper
- salt to taste
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups cold water
- ½ cup pumpkin seeds
- 1 large orange
- Remove peel and seeds from pumpkin. Cut pumpkin into 1-inch cubes and spread on to roasting pan.
- Split whole garlic bulb into two cross sections and break into smaller segments. Scatter all over pumpkin in roasting pan.
- Give a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil all over the pumpkin and garlic.
- Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Roast in a 200°C preheated oven for 25 minutes until pumpkin has lightly crusted and garlic softened. Allow to cool, then remove garlic peel.
- In a roasting tray, spread out pumpkin seeds and toast in 200°C oven for 10 minutes. Allow to cool.
- Rinse 1 cup quinoa until water runs clear. Drain off rinse water and place into pot. Add 2 cups cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce to low heat and simmer until all the water has evaporated, usually about 10-15 minutes. Stir in salt to taste and immediately cover with a lid and steam for 5 minutes.
- Arrange cooked quinoa, roast pumpkin and garlic, and toasted pumpkin seeds in a salad bowl.
- Remove zest from orange and put aside. Cut orange into two and squeeze the juice of one-half orange into salad. Cut remaining half orange into segments and scatter into salad.
- Toss together before serving, garnished with orange zest.