Sometimes we cook with intention – pouring over recipes, shopping for obscure ingredients, carefully preparing the dish, and triumphantly serving it to a table of effusively complimentary dinner guests. But let’s face it, these occasions are rare. In my house, the majority of our meals are haphazard, scrounged together from whatever lies in the fridge and is in imminent danger of wilting or spoilage. If those carrots are beginning to lose their crispness, I’ll grate them into a carrot salad flecked with raisins and walnuts and slick with olive oil, lemon, and honey. If that zucchini loses its luster, I’ll throw it into a frittata with a handful of sweet corn from the freezer and that last nub of craggy parmesan lurking in the depths of the fridge. Unglamorous perhaps, but the result is generally warm, tasty, and sustaining.
Occasionally, these haphazard dinners have truly gratifying results. Yesterday my fridge was bare save for an aged pumpkin, a little chorizo, and a wedge of Manchego. I also had a bag of paella rice in the cupboard. Hmmm, what to do? In no mood for culinary finesse, I simply stuffed the cheese, meat and rice into the pumpkin with a clove of chopped garlic, added some chicken stock, and shoved it into the oven. Ya esta!
The pumpkin came out of oven soft, plum, and golden as a setting sun, brimming with a mélange of flavor-rich rice, melty cheese, and chunks of toothsome chorizo. Although it cannot claim any Spanish origins, I christened this dish ‘pumpkin a la Española’ in honor of its main ingredients.
1 small pumpkin, about 3 lbs.
1 3oz. semi-cured chorizo sausage (such as Bilbao or Riojano), chopped into bite-sized discs
¼ lb Manchego, grated
½ cup bomba or other paella rice
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1-1 ½ cups chicken stock (1 ½ cups if using bomba rice, 1 cup for other paella rice)
1. Preheat oven to 375F. Cut around the stem of the pumpkin and remove. Scrape out stringy center and seeds.
2. In a bowl, mix the rice, chorizo, Manchego, and garlic. Stuff into center of pumpkin, no more than 2/3 full.
3. Heat the stock to boiling and pour into center of pumpkin. Mix into contents with a spoon.
4. Replace lid and bake pumpkin until flesh it tender and rice is cooked, about 2 hours.
– Rachel Adams