Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Happy Fall Y'all III: Pumpkin. It's what's for dinner.

Intrigued by a stuffed pumpkin recipe first spotted on Pinterest, I decided to give it a go.  I mean, what's more "fall" than pumpkins?  While I consume a plethora of pumpkin flavored foods and beverages, it occurred to me that I've never actually eaten a for-real pumpkin.  Pinterest challenge: accepted.

But before I could delve into the culinary portion, I had to make it pretty first, right?  Extra points for presentation!  I used a Speedball linoleum cutter with interchangeable tips (most likely a souvenir from that one token engraving project in high school art class) to etch a design into the surface of the pumpkin (make sure not to pierce all the way through).  

The botanical vine motif was almost too cute to eat!

Pumpkin full of stuffed deliciousness

Right out of the oven--I love how the etched pattern got bolder with heat

Yummy...dig in!

Fair warning for you type A personalities:  I changed the original recipe significantly based on what I thought would add interesting flavors and based on what I had in the fridge, but I think this is a dish that lends itself to experimentation, so get creative!  

A variant of this recipe was also featured on NPR, so if you're like me and love to listen to cooking talk radio, click here.

Stuffed Pumpkin

1 pie pumpkin
3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 c chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c chopped apple
1 c slightly stale bread or toasted bread
1/4 c handful golden raisins and/or dried cranberries
2 T chopped scallions
2/3 cup cheese (mix mozzarella, Parmesan, smoked Gruyere, etc)
1/3 c cream
3 T white cooking wine or broth
Dash of nutmeg and thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
Wash exterior of pumpkin and etch design, if desired.
Cut at an angle around the stem, remove cap, and clean out the "guts." Salt inside of pumpkin and turn upside down to drain on counter while preparing the stuffing.
Cook bacon in cast iron skillet and set aside.
Using same pan, sauté onions, garlic and apples in bacon grease for 3 minutes.  Add mushrooms to the pan for the last minute of cooking.
Mix all dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.  Add cream and wine/broth and gently fold.
Stuff the pumpkin, replace the cap, set on baking dish or in a casserole dish, and bake for 1-2 hours, until pumpkin can be easily pierced all the way through with a knife.

I ended up baking this small-ish pumpkin for about an hour and a half.  I was worried that it might taste watery or mushy, but the flavors and consistency came out just right.  There was a good deal of stuffing leftover (enough for another pumpkin, perhaps?) and although the pumpkin itself looked small, it provided either 2 aggressive portions or 4 smaller slices.  It even tasked pretty yummy leftover!

Served with a simple spinach salad, it made for a great presentation; it would be perfect for a dinner party or even as a fancy side for your Thanksgiving meal.  But of course, a pretty dinner requires a pretty table setting, so here's how I've jazzed up my table for fall:

Harvest table

Remember these pumpkin buttons?
Well now they have become embellishments for some vintage napkins

Spray painted gourds and pumpkins on a tiered dessert stand as a table centerpiece

What are some of your favorite fall recipes?


  1. REALLY cool what you did to the outside. Your version sounds yummy too! Now I wish I would have received TWO pumpkins! :-)

  2. How do you serve it? The picture looks like you cut through the shell of the pumpkin with some of the stuffing. Do you scrape the pumpkin away from the walls before cutting or serving?

    1. I cut through the entire pumpkin after baking and served in wedges. The pumpkin can easily be eaten off the skin with a spoon or fork. I saw on some recipes where the pumpkin flesh was scraped from the sides before baking, but I think you'd run the risk of a collapsing pumpkin! Good luck :)

  3. how necessary is the cream? I like to cut back on the dairy when i can, and was hoping to use some lactose free milk possibly, or a broth? thoughts?