Pumpkin and Black Rice Tamale with Superfood Cilantro Sauce

Just in time for All Hallows' Eve, festive black and orange tamales. Both pumpkin and black rice are known in Chinese medicine as being particularly helpful for the autumn and winter months. Pumpkin is grounding and rich while black rice nourishes the kidney's. Learn more about all the amazing health benefits of pumpkin here.

Black foods have become quite hip over the last few years as they offer a striking and unique contrast within a meal. The trick (or is it treat?) with ebony food is to pair it with brightly colored accents -- the pumpkin works beautifully in this role. The tamales are topped with a bright and spicy cilantro sauce. As noted in How to grown your own superfoods this winter, cilantro "controls blood sugar, detoxifies heavy metals and possesses strong antibacterial properties." This is certainly a food you will want to enjoy often for its impressive health benefits.

A few tips about the recipe. To ease the rolling of tamales, make sure to use the rice while it is still warm. It is actually an enjoyable and easy process once you get the hang of it. The sweetness of the pumpkin off-sets the tartness of the cilantro-lime sauce while the black rice adds an earthy flavor. You will have plenty of roasted pumpkin left over to enjoy as a side or in another creation of your choosing. This is also a perfect entrée for those of you who are partaking in Dia de los Muertos festivities.

Wishing all an inspired autumn.

Magical Black Rice and Pumpkin Tamales with Superfood Cilantro Sauce

Serves: 6

*As always, organic ingredients are best for flavor, nutrition and health


3 cups short-grain black rice

3 1/4 cups water

Small sugar pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cubed in 1-inch chunks

1/4 cup coconut oil

One bunch of cilantro

4 cloves of garlic

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

Juice of two limes

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 cup olive oil

Sea salt to taste

Unbleached parchment paper


Cut parchment paper into (6) 4x6 inch rectangular pieces of parchment paper.

Combine rice with water and a pinch of salt in a 1-quart saucepan. Bring to a slow simmer and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 45 minutes until water is completely absorbed. Let sit five minutes a fluff. Set aside covered.

While rice is cooking, roast pumpkin cubes. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Place a 9x12 baking dish and the coconut oil within the oven. Leave just long enough to melt the oil -- about 3 minutes. Remove and toss with pumpkin cubes and a pinch of salt. Return to oven and roast for 35-40 minutes until cubes are golden brown and soft throughout. Set aside and let cool.

Meanwhile, create the cilantro sauce. In a food processor fitted with the metal S-blade, blend cilantro, garlic and pumpkin seeds until a smooth. Add lime juice, cayenne, olive oil and a pinch of salt. Blend until creamy. Set aside.

To assemble tamales, place one piece of parchment on a heavy cutting board. Spread one cup of rice over entire parchment save 1/2 inch around. Place a strip of pumpkin lengthwise along the center of the rice. With the side closest to you, roll up parchment, rice and pumpkin until both sides meet. Press down gently to seal the seam. Set aside and continue with 5 remaining wrappers.

When it is time to serve, tenderly unwrap each tamale onto a plate. Drizzle with cilantro sauce. Share with those friendly goblins, witches and spooks whom you love. Joyful feasting!

"I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself 
than be crowded on a velvet cushion."
                                                      -Henry David Thoreau