November 19, 2012

Roasted Stuffed Pumpkin

"You know," said the worker at the grocery store, eyeing the pumpkin in my cart, "you should really stuff and roast that pumpkin." 

"In fact," I replied, "that's exactly what I'm doing!" 

He was wearing a brightly colored, striped sweater beneath his grocery store uniform, and the high-pitched lilt in his voice came from someone who had clearly spent more than one shower belting out musicals while shampooing his hair. 

"Yum!" he said. "So de-lic-ious." 

My sister and I smiled. "Well I've never done it before," I continued, "so it should be fun." 

"You've never done it before?" he stammered back with the incredulity of a 17 year old homecoming-queen-hopeful who'd just been told prom had been cancelled. "Oh my." 

Our pumpkin enthusiast proceeded, with some enthusiasm, to walk us around the store, handing us a bag of stuffing here, and red onion, some thyme, a bag of cranberries and a container of chicken stock there. By the time we were done, my cart loaded with a pumpkin and it's many stuffings, he looked pleased. 

"Now" he said, "do you have a recipe?"

"Well, not exactly. But I've read a few recipes and I'm going to improvise my own version." 

"Good then," he said. We thanked him for his guidance, and he left us, smiling. 

Only to meet us about 30 seconds later while we were waiting in the check out line. 

"I usually start with the oven at 400 degrees," he chimed in. "I'd hollow out the pumpkin first. Tell me, do you know how to roast the seeds?" 

"Oh yes, I love roasting them." 

"Good then. I usually spread them on a baking sheet with butter and cinnamon." He explained in full pumpkin seed roasting process, and then got back to the stuffed pumpkin. 

By the time we'd paid and our groceries were in bags, he'd finished explaining his steps for stuffed pumpkin, and bid us goodbye one more time.

"Oh it's going to be amazing!" he yelled as we exited the grocery store doors. "So de-lic-ious. Come back and tell me how it is." 

Grocery store guy, if you reading this: It was de-lic-ious! 

The Process

Hollow out your pumpkin (and save those seeds) and place on a nonstick baking surface.

After baking the pumpkin on its own, stuff it with your stuffing! 

I layered roasted button mushrooms, cranberries and red onions in between layers of traditional stuffing. 

Bake once more, stuffed and capped. 

It really isn't difficult to see why these are so fun.

And served with roasted chicken and gravy, they're also quite de-lic-ious.

Roasted Stuffed Pumpkin 
Makes 1 stuffed pumpkin 

You can really stuff your pumpkin with anything that you'd like - traditional stuffing, cornbread stuffing, roasted vegetables, rice dishes - you name it. I ended up stuffing mine with traditional stuffing layered with cranberries, roasted red onion and button mushrooms. Along with some roast chicken and gravy, it was quite a meal. 

Get yourself a good pumpkin. Some pumpkin varieties are better than others for eating. I used a "Cheese Pumpkin," so named because it's shaped like a wheel of cheese, but you can use whichever pumpkin your heart desires. But some pumpkins can be bitter, so be careful when choosing yours.

Hollow out the pumpkin and bake that thing. Just like you would for a Jack-O-Latern, cut a circle at the top of the pumpkin using a paring knife. Remove the lid. Scoop out the guts and seeds (save seeds for baking!). Place your pumpkin on a nonstick baking surface on a baking sheet (a silicon baking mat or parchment paper work well), lid only partially covering the pumpkin. Place in oven and bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, until it is just becoming soft. Remove from the oven. If there is liquid that has collected at the bottom, carefully remove it by pouring it out using tongs or heatproof gloves.

Stuff your pumpkin. Prepare a filling to stuff your pumpkin. I'd recommend a traditional Thanksgiving stuffing recipe, or this fabulous warm barley salad. Anything of this nature that will bake well in a casserole will work, though make sure everything is cooked before stuffing it into your pumpkin. Make enough to fill your pumpkin. Remove your pumpkin from the oven, take off the lid, carefully stuff with the stuffing, and replace the lid.

Bake it again. Place back in the oven and bake another 45 minutes or so, until the pumpkin is easily pierced with a knife (but don't wait until the pumpkin collapses!) and the stuffing is warmed through.

Eat that pumpkin. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Place on a serving dish and eat it up! I served mine with roasted chicken and gravy. I'd recommend serving it by cutting slices from it as you might from a large cake, though any way you want to tackle that pumpkin works just great!