Roasted Pumpkin Stuffed with Many Good Things
Serves approximately 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side dish. Can double the recipe for a larger crowd!
1 small pumpkin, about 3lbs
Salt and ground black pepper
1 ½ cups bulghur or brown rice, cooked
1 ½ cups chopped apples
¼ cup sharp cheddar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1 tsp each dried rosemary and parsley (or 1 T each of fresh, chopped)
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
4 T shredded parmesan, divided into two parts
⅓ cup of vegetable stock or milk
Center the rack in an oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line a baking dish large enough to hold the pumpkin(s) with parchment paper. Keep in mind that you may need a bit more room to maneuver a spatula in case you want to serve the pumpkin on a different dish.
With a sharp and sturdy knife, carefully cut the top ¼ or ⅓ off from your pumpkin, like you are making a jack-o-lantern. Set aside the top. Scoop out the seeds and pulp, leaving a cavity to fill. Season the inside of the pumpkin with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, toss together the next 8 ingredients, setting aside 2 T of parmesan. Pour half of the measured liquid on the mixture and toss to coat. Add more liquid as needed so that the stuffing is moist but not swimming.
Spoon the stuffing into the pumpkin until filled to the top. Bake any leftover stuffing separately in a dish. Set the pumpkin in the parchment-lined dish and sprinkle the remaining parmesan on top of the stuffing. Put the pumpkin top on and bake until the pumpkin is tender about 2 hours. About 20 to 30 minutes before it is done, remove the pumpkin top so the stuffing can brown.
You can serve the pumpkin straight from the baking dish, or for a more elegant presentation, using a steady hand and a sturdy spatula, transfer the whole pumpkin to a serving dish. Cut into wedges and serve!
Notes: Pumpkin seeds can be cleaned and roasted with a little olive oil. All the vegetable bits, including the pumpkin pulp, can be added to a pot with water, brought to a simmer for several minutes, and strained for a delicious vegetable stock.
- Almost any winter squash can be used in place of the pumpkin, with roasting times varying. Slice smaller or elongated squashes (like delicata or butternut) in half and fill the cavities.
- Think of this recipe as a guideline and try variations. For example, in place of the bulghur or rice, try pieces of whole-grain stale bread. Or dried cranberries or apricots for the apples. Try pairing sage with chevre or mix in feta, mozzarella, and swiss. This stuffing also pairs well with cooked sausage or bacon if you would like to add meat, and nuts are delicious for additional protein and healthy fats.