Meera Sodha’s Vegan Christmas Pumpkin Recipe | Vegan food and drink

TThis is my fifth vegan Christmas meal deal, and every year I’m afraid it’s impossible. Fear sets in: how do you do something special and joyful enough to deserve a place on your Christmas table? Something that works across generations, but also alongside other dishes (and doesn’t scare the cook)? I don’t know if I succeeded, but personally there is nothing like seeing a big roasted pumpkin treasure hitting the festive table. I’m delighted to share this one with you: my Christmas pumpkin stuffed with a tasty mix of nuts, herbs and mushrooms.

Christmas pumpkin

This recipe, for which you’ll need a food processor, deserves the best pumpkin you can find. I love the beautiful delica and crown prince pumpkins, which don’t come cheap, but if there was a moment to splash…

Preperation 10 minutes
to cook 1h45
Serves 6

1 pumpkin delica, about 1.6 kg
1½ teaspoon fine sea salt, plus an extra pinch to season the inside of the pumpkin
150g of mixed nuts (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts)
750g of mixed mushrooms, cleaned up
4 tablespoons of olive oil
14 sage leaves
, finely chopped
3 sprigs of thyme, leaves stripped
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 small leeks (250g), trimmed and finely chopped
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and grated
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
tsp ground nutmeg
1½ tablespoon of balsamic vinegar

Use a small serrated knife to cut a lid off the pumpkin and make a hole large enough to slip your hand through. Using your hand like a bear claw, scoop out the seeds and stringy pieces inside (put them in the compost). Rub some salt inside the pumpkin, then set aside.

Put the nuts in a food processor and reduce them to a dusty pile – keep an eye out for them, otherwise they will turn into nut butter – then pour them into a bowl. Break the mushrooms into pieces, add them to the food processor, blend into lentil-sized pieces and leave in situ until later.

Put the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and, when hot, throw in the sage and thyme leaves. When they start to crackle, stir in the onion and leeks and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes, until tender and starting to brown. Add the garlic and cook for three minutes, until the raw smell disappears.

Pour in the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, until they release their moisture. Add the measured salt, pepper, nutmeg and toasted walnuts and cook, stirring regularly so the mixture does not stick, for six to eight minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the balsamic vinegar.

Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan) / 390F / gas 6 and line a baking sheet (I use a reusable baking sheet). Pour the mixture into the pumpkin, crushing each spoonful so that there are no gaps (you might have too much filling, but it’s better than not enough), then open the lid on top. Rub the skin of the pumpkin with oil, wrap it tightly in foil, place it on the lined baking sheet and bake for an hour to an hour and 10 minutes, until the point of a sharp knife fits easily.

Take the pumpkin out of the oven, unwrap (you may need to leave the foil at the very bottom of the pumpkin) and gently transfer it to a pretty serving plate. Cut into large wedges and serve with my coleslaw and apple salad.

Fiona Beckett’s drink match You can drink white (chardonnay, I suggest) or red with Meera’s pumpkin and coleslaw combo, but I would go for a pinot noir. Morrisons has a very good Unique Chilean vineyard pinot (£ 10, 13%) in its The Best range which is suitable for vegans. Or, if you’re not a vegan, The Wine Society has a delicious Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2019 (£ 14.95, 13.5%) in its Exhibition range, which is great value for a California red of this quality.

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Tanya S. Norvell