Friday, October 21, 2011

Pumpkin Stuffed Vegetable Stew

I was so happy to have Psychgrad and "R" here for Canadian Thanksgiving. I was equally as happy to have the help in hosting dinner for the family. Psychgrad was the Chef de Cuisine, "R" moved tables and chairs and heavy things in and out of the oven and I was the Sous Chef.

This year we have an addition to the family. "A" is charming, gracious, kind and vegetarian. Is vegetarian really an adjective? We did want him to feel special and comfortable with the family and in our family food=love.

Psychgrad and I had to put our thinking caps on. The challenge was to create a main dish that was both impressive and vegetarian. I mean you can always fill up on sides and salads but to me it's just not special enough. We finally found what we believed was going to be a show stopper at the Gourmet site. Pumpkin Stuffed Vegetable Stew!!! Sounds good, no?

I drove up to the Southbrook Pumpkin Patch to pick out a perfect pumpkin. I was looking for a pumpkin that was a sweet, flavourful eating pumpkin.

We read the recipe over a couple of times to make sure we had the sequence right and all the ingredients we needed. The recipe has three parts to it; a sauce made of roasted vegetables and wine, a stew of roasted vegetables (not the same as the sauce) and a combination of all inside the pumpkin to bake to perfection.


This intense base is the secret to the full-bodied richness of the stew. Roasting emphasizes the vegetables' best qualities, and they're simmered with red wine and plenty of herbs and aromatics.

1 large leek (white and pale green parts only), halved lengthwise
5 carrots, quartered
1 head garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
2 red bell peppers, quartered
1 lb plum tomatoes, halved
1 fennel bulb, stalks discarded and bulb quartered
2 large onions, quartered
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup boiling water
1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms (1 cup)
1 (4-inch) piece celery
4 parsley stems
1 large thyme sprig
8 black peppercorns
2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California
1 cup dry red wine
4 qt water
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil; 1 1/2 ounces)
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
EQUIPMENT: cheesecloth; kitchen string


Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in middle.
Wash leek halves (see Cooking Tips) and pat dry.

Toss leek, carrots, garlic, bell peppers, plum tomatoes, fennel, and onions with oil, then spread in a 17- by 14-inch roasting pan and roast, stirring occasionally, until well browned and tender, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.

Transfer roasted vegetables to a 6- to 8-quart pot and add wine to roasting pan, then deglaze pan by boiling, scraping up brown bits, 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine to vegetables in pot along with water (4 quarts), porcini and soaking liquid, bouquet garni, sun-dried tomatoes, and 2 teaspoons salt.

Bring to a boil, then simmer, uncovered, until stock is reduced to about 6 cups, about 2 hours. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, pressing firmly on and then discarding solids.

Melt butter in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat and whisk in flour, then cook roux, whisking, 3 minutes. Add stock in a stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps, then bring to a boil, whisking. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.


Stock can be made ahead and cooled, uncovered, then chilled, covered, 1 week or frozen in an airtight container 1 month.
Sauce can be made 2 days ahead and chilled, uncovered, until cool, then covered. Reheat before using.

Root vegetables, mushrooms, and seitan—a firm, meatlike wheat protein that soaks up all the flavors of the sauce—mingle with roasted vegetables inside the pumpkin, whose flesh you scoop out along with servings of the stew. (Don't be intimidated at the thought of assembling such a masterpiece—if you've ever made a jack-o'-lantern, you have the skills to prepare this dish.)


1 fennel bulb with fronds
2 medium parsnips (1/2 pound total), peeled, quartered, cored, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 lb celery root (sometimes called celeriac; 1/2 of 1 medium), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
14 small shallots (about 1 pound), peeled and left whole, plus 1/2 cup chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 red bell pepepers
1 (8- to 9-lb) pumpkin (preferably cheese, pie, or Sweet Meat variety)
Roasted-vegetable and wine sauce, heated
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 lb fresh cremini mushrooms, trimmed and halved
1/4 lb fresh chanterelle mushrooms, trimmed
1 lb seitan (seasoned wheat gluten), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon chopped thyme, divided
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in middle.
Chop enough fennel fronds to measure 1 tablespoon and reserve, then discard stalks and remaining fronds. Halve bulb lengthwise, then core and cut lengthwise into 1-inch wedges.
Toss fennel wedges, parsnips, celery root, carrots, and whole shallots with 2 tablespoons oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a 17- by 12-inch shallow baking pan until coated, then roast, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and almost tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove vegetables from oven. Leave oven on.

Roast peppers on racks of gas burners over high heat, turning with tongs, until skins are blistered, 5 to 8 minutes. (If you stove is not gas, see cooks' note, below.)
Transfer peppers to a bowl and let stand, covered, until cool enough to handle. Peel peppers and discard stems and seeds. Cut peppers lengthwise into 1-inch strips.
Remove top of pumpkin by cutting a circle (6 inches in diameter) around stem with a small sharp knife. Scrape out and discard seeds and any loose fibers from inside pumpkin with a spoon (including top of pumpkin; do not discard top), then sprinkle flesh with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Put pumpkin in a large roasting pan.

Pour 1 1/2 cups sauce into pumpkin and cover with top, then brush all over with remaining tablespoon oil. Roast 1 hour.
While pumpkin roasts, heat butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until foam subsides, then sauté chopped shallots until softened. Add mushrooms and sauté until they are browned and begin to give off liquid, about 8 minutes. Add wheat gluten and 1/2 teaspoon thyme, then stir in 1 1/2 cups more sauce and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and fold in roasted root vegetables and peppers, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

After pumpkin has roasted 1 hour, spoon vegetable filling into it, then cover with top. Roast until pumpkin is tender when pierced with a fork, vegetables are tender, and filling is hot, about 30 minutes more. Transfer pumpkin to a platter using 2 sturdy metal spatulas.
Stir together fennel fronds, parsley, zest, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon thyme and sprinkle half of it over filling. Stir remainder into remaining sauce and serve sauce on the side.

Bell peppers can be broiled on rack of a broiler pan about 2 inches from heat, turning occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes.
Peppers can be roasted and peeled up to 2 days ahead and chilled, covered.
Root vegetables can be roasted 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature before using.
Pumpkin can be cut, scraped, and seasoned 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Pour out any accumulated liquid and bring pumpkin to room temperature before proceeding with recipe.

We didn't use the entire 6 cups of sauce; the pumpkin creates juice also. I froze the leftover and can certainly use it for another recipe.
We couldn't find seitan at the health food store so used cubed and herbed firm tofu.

Verdict: Was it a fair amount of work? YES! Was it worth it? YES YES AND YES -- 'nuf said



That Girl said...

Vegetarian Thanksgivings are harder than regular vegetarian dinners. This was a great idea!

FOODalogue said...

I bet everyone was fighting over the vegetarian dish. It looks (and reads) delicious and it certainly made a great presentation.

test it comm said...

I really like the sound of a stew stuffed in a pumpkin! What a great way to enjoy all of those great fall vegetables!

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

I agree with Joan. I would be waiting with baited that how it's spelt? Anyway, delish!

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