Saturday, 26 September 2015

ROASTED PUMPKIN WITH RAS EL HANOUT, GOAT CHEESE, FRESH MINT & WALNUTS



I urgently needed some new and inspirational pumpkin recipes for this year's harvest really is mind-boggling! In the culinary magazine of one of The Netherland's biggest grocers, the Allerhande, I found this recipe with roasted pumpkin and ras el hanout. Last year I got ras el hanout for my birthday but I haven't used it yet. Maybe I was saving it for something special? Apparently this pumpkin recipe was special enough because I didn't hesitate to use a lot (like a lot, a lot) more than the recipe's description. Do you know the nasty feeling after you've presented your dish in a special bowl and have decorated it with fresh herbs and other deliciousness that you're uaccountably worried the dish won't live up to the presentation? Yes? Well, I had exactly that grisly feeling after I put this on our dinner table and I really don't know why! And after that feeling I was happier than ever when it turned out to taste just as good as it looks - if not better! 



Last week I read an article about how most people find it hard to vary their dishes throughout the week. They find it difficult to come up with new and inspirational ways to cook their meals. I actually found that very sad! Especially in September when all fruits and veggies are at their prime and you have loads to chose from! Take this pumpkin for example. You can roast it and make this lovely salad, but you can also chose to make pumpkin soup, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie, pumpkin pasta sauce, pumpkin cake or pumpkin chutney. So people, don't be uninspired any longer! Set aside your insecurities in the kitchen - something I learned from Julia Child - and just pick something you think will be delish and cook it! 




Roasted Pumpkin with Ras el Hanout, Goat Cheese, Fresh Mint and Walnuts

This recipe is inspired by this recipe in the Dutch Allerhande. The Allerhande made it a side dish for 4 while I've turned it into a main dish for two with couscous and walnuts. The walnuts give this recipe the required crunch. And as I said I tripled the amount of ras el hanout so it would be a worthy counterpart of the strong flavored goat cheese. 

Ingredients
1 pumpkin
1 tbsp ras el hanout
5-10 tbsp olive oil
a few sprigs of fresh mint
125 gr goat cheese
5 tbsp liquid honey
salt and pepper to taste
100 gr walnuts

For the couscous
175 gr couscous
175 ml vegetable broth

1. Preheat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius. Cut the pumpkin in half (I like to use a bread knife for this) and remove the seeds with a spoon. Peel the pumpkin using a vegetable peeler or a very sharp knife. Then cut the halves in thin slices. 

2. In a large baking dish combine the pumpkin slices with the olive oil, ras el hanout, salt, and pepper and bake for about 40 minutes in the oven. 

3. Cut or crumble the goat cheese into little pieces and sprinkle with honey. Chop the mint and the walnuts. 

4. Bring the vegetable broth to a boil and mix with the couscous in a large bowl. Cover with a plate or lid. Leave to rest for about 15 minutes. Stir well before serving. 

5. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and assemble the slices in a nice serving bowl with the goat cheese and honey. Sprinkle with the fresh mint and the walnuts. Serve with the couscous.

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