Lena’s Quinoa Stuffed Pumpkin
This is Lena.
Lena is a one of a kind. She is a very sensual cook and a passionate baker. Her wisdom and insight won’t let you guess her age – she is the youngest People Who Cook cook yet. She grew up in Berlin and lives in a beautiful, homey home where you see paintings, guitars, freshly brewed tea and a whole lot of miniature pumpkins. Why miniature pumpkins? Because that is what Lena is cooking for us today!
As soon as I arrived, Lena poured some steaming tea and made me feel at home. As always, I had some treats in my bag and brought along freshly baked lemon and chia cookies that Lena unpacked, smelled and then devoured! She appreciates homemade vegan treats as much as I do. When we met on a sunny rooftop a few weeks ago, we were introduced as follows: Lena, this is Judith with the foodblog and Judith, this is Lena with the fruit loaf. The rest is history.
I visited her in her beautiful home in Berlin Friedrichshain and she awaited me with a colourful stack of fruits and vegetables. Jule, a common friend of ours through whom we met, also came to watch Lena cook (and to eat the yummy results, of course..). We discovered family photos, admired Lena’s art and her patience in the kitchen. Lena is an utmost sensual cook. The careful way in which she picks the ingredients, the way she cleans the vegetables, slices them and prepares the dish is most beautiful to witness. It’s a very thoughtful and aware process. For Lena, cooking is meditation. She invests all of her senses: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching. She truly celebrates the ways in which she prepares food. The mindfulness with which she marinates the pumpkins, washes the mushrooms and peels the onions is remarkable. Especially nowadays where people don’t pay attention to what they eat or how they eat. Lena, you’re an inspiration!
Growing up, Lena was always drawn to the kitchen. She tells me that she used to press walnut oil with a garlic press – this is how curious she was and still is. Growing up in a very health-conscious household, Lena is used to nut & dried fruit snacks as well as anything whole grain. This is the style of cooking she’s still true to, but maybe with a handful more spices and the most important asset (according to me): crunchy toppings. (nuts all day every day, my fellow foodies!)
Another friend who joined us today is Luzie who got excited as soon as she heard that Lena will be cooking. *Hint hint hint* that she’s known for good cuisine! Lena loves to cook for people, she says, and that she really enjoys having guests over whom she can spoil with vegan treats. She bakes a lot and follows the mindset food that’s good for body & soul. Do I agree with this? Most definitely.
For today’s dish, Lena made quinoa stuffed pumpkins. For that, she first roasted the pumpkins and prepared a quinoa & mushroom filling with caramelized onions and homemade cashew cream. For the onions, she has a little trick: you quickly heat them really high and then turn down the heat, allowing them to slowly, slowly caramelise. Dit lohnt sich uff jeden Fall, she assures me (which is German with a Berlin accent meaning something in the direction of you’ll never regret).
As a topping, Lena prepared a pomegranate in the most clean and skilled manner. She carefully sliced off the very top, then scored wedges and cautiously separated them. Without a single drop of pomegranate juice or a single injured seed. Watch and learn.
Now. Would you like to get your hands on that recipe? Alright, folks!
Lena’s Quinoa Stuffed Pumpkin
Prep Time: 30 min
Cooking Time: 45 min
Total Time: 1 hr 15 min
For this recipe you will need:
200g tricolour quinoa
2 tbsp oil
1 big clove of garlic
1 cup cashews, soaked in warm water for 1 hour
1/2 cup cashews, roasted and roughly chopped
1 lime, juiced
4 small Hokkaido pumpkins
olive oil to marinade
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp curcuma
salt and pepper to taste
- Hollow the pumpkins and keep the tops. Rub the pumpkins and tops with olive oil and roast in the oven at 170°C for 30 minutes.
- Finely chop the onions and preheat 2 tbsp of oil in a pan. First, fry the onions on very high heat and then turn it down to allow them to slowly caramelise.
- Wash the mushrooms and slice. Add to the onions and fry until they are reduced in size. Use a garlic press for the garlic clove and add to the onion-mushroom mix.
- Cook the quinoa according the the instructions on the package. Once it’s done, add it to the pan and mix well with the mushrooms and onions.
- For the cashew cream, pour the soaked cashews into a blender and pulse until you get a creamy sauce consistency (you may ad a little bit of water here). Pour it into the quinoa mushroom mix and add in the roasted and chopped cashews. Season well with lime juice, pepper and salt.
- Remove the pre-roasted pumpkins from the oven and fill with a few tablespoons of the quinoa stuffing. Baked for another 7-10 minutes and serve with the pumpkin hat, lime juice and pomegranate seeds.
Lena, thank you for sharing your space, your calm and your love for food.
We all now know how to properly caramelise onions and slice pomegranates and that is worth a whole damn lot!