Happy October, everyone!
Now that we are into October – and now that the temperatures have plummeted (the heating came on for the first time at the weekend!) – I finally feel ready for Autumn.
The chunky knitwear, the slouchy boots and the cosy hats. The warming, spicy soups and stews, huge vats of steaming hot chocolate, and the Harry Potter movie marathons. And, of course, everything pumpkin – pumpkin curry, pumpkin mac and cheese, pumpkin pie, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin bread. And stuffed pumpkins…
Forgive me for going pumpkin crazy with all these recipes (at least, I will over the next few weeks!), but here is my first pumpkin recipe of the season.
These delicious, spicy Mexican Rice & Quinoa Stuffed Pumpkins are great for a simple, cosy and comforting meal.
The rice in itself makes a delicious, warming lunch or dinner (it contains added protein from the quinoa – a rare complete plant protein, hurrah! -and the kidney beans), but is really elevated when you team it with these mini pumpkins.
Mini pumpkins are delicious when roasted, they don’t take forever to bake or carve, and their size also makes them ideal for stuffing.
I’ve been adding quinoa and cranberries to mine (a slightly more Christmassy-feeling meal, but delicious all the same!), as well as rice and kale. However, my favourite is Mexican Spiced Rice.
Made using ready-made rice mixes for ease (although feel free to boil up your own to cut down on cost!), the rice is mixed with simple, pantry ingredients – including chipotle paste, tomato puree, beans, quinoa, sweetcorn – to add tonnes of flavour and spice.
The result? A delicious, comforting, easy mid-week meal!
Spicy Mexican Rice Stuffed Mini Pumpkins
- Serves 3-6-
- 6 mini pumpkins, tops removed and de-seeded (save the seeds for roasting, if you like!)
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 350g cooked rice and quinoa mix (I used a packet mix for ease, but homemade is great!)
- 1 small red onion, peeled and finely sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- One red pepper, de-seeded and chopped into small pieces
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 1-2 tsp chipotle chilli paste (dependent on taste – be mindful that chipotle is quite strong and add a bit at a time!)
- 1 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1 1/4 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 4 ripe, chopped tomatoes
- 150g tinned cooked kidney beans, drained
- 150g tinned sweetcorn, drained
- Handful fresh coriander
- 1.5 tbsp pumpkin seeds
- 2 spring onions, chopped
- Juice one lime
- Guacamole or grated cheese, to serve (optional)
Start by preheating your oven to 200C, then line two baking trays with baking paper.
Place your pre-sliced pumpkins and their lids onto the trays and baste with a little olive oil and sprinklings of salt, pepper and the pinch of chilli flakes. Place in the oven to bake for 17-20 minutes with their lids on, or until the pumpkins are just tenderising.
In the meantime, prepare your filling. Heat some oil in a pan and add the onion. Cook for a few minutes, stirring often, then add in the garlic. Continue to cook for a few minutes, then add the red pepper.
- Stir in the chipotle chilli paste, the tomato puree and the spices, then fry for an extra minute, or until fragrant.
- Now, toss in the rice and quinoa mixture, along with the tomatoes, kidney beans and sweetcorn. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes have softened and the rice is warm and spicy. Season to taste, then take your fresh coriander and chop the stems. Stir the stems through the mixture, along with the pumpkin seeds, leaving the coriander leaves aside for serving.
- Spoon your rice into the softened pumpkins, then pop the lids on top and place back in the oven to back for a further 10-15 minutes, or until the rice is piping hot and the pumpkins are tender.
- Serve topped with spring onions, a drizzle of lime and guacamole or grated cheese, if using.