Nourishing Vegetarian Stuffed Pumpkin

This tasty presentation is fabulous to take to a Thanksgiving potluck!

The recipe is for pumpkin, but Long Island Cheese, a white/buff C. moschata type of squash which is paler than a pumpkin outside with a rich nutty flavor is superb. Another great squash for this recipe is the dark green Kabocha squash for a dramatic color contrast at the table. But any large squash or pumpkin at least 10″ inches in diameter would suit very nicely. You can do a lot of the prep work the day or two days before.

1 10″ pumpkin or pumpkin shaped squash
2 T soy sauce, tamari or Braggs
salt and pepper
Juice of 1 lemon

1 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cranberries, sweetened with apple juice
1/2 cup dried pitted prunes
1/4 cup currants
3/4 cup walnuts, broken in pieces
1/4 cup diced black kalamata olives (optional – they give a nice kick)
1 large yellow onion
1 small (3-4″) celeriac (celery root) or 1 stalk celery, with leaves
2 T apple juice concentrate
2 1/3 to 3 cups vegetable stock
2T crumbled dried sage leaf
1 T dried basil
1 T dried oregano
Zest of 2 lemons (optional)
1 t salt, freshly ground black pepper
1 T butter or ghee or olive oil
1/4 c melted butter or ghee

Stuffing Step 1pumpkin1

  1. Preheat the oven to 350
  2. Depending on your druthers, cut the bread into 1/2″ to 1″ chunks, place on several cookie sheets.  For a 10″ round pumpkin you’ll need about 6 cups, toasted.
  3. Turn the oven down to 200 and toast the bread cubes slowly. Check every 15-20 minutes to stir and turn; it’ll take about 45 to 60 minutes. You want it to be absolutely bone dry and hard. When done, let it cool. Yes, in a pinch, you can use organic, commercial, unflavored stuffing cubes but it just isn’t as good. I like to make a loaf of bread in my bread machine the day before.
  4. Chop the dried prunes and dried apricots coarsely.
  5. Put all of the dried fruit and the walnuts in a medium stainless steel saucepan. Cover with vegetable stock and the apple juice concentrate, bring it to a boil, turn off and let it cool/rest, covered, for 1 hour. You can do this ahead of time.
  6. Drain, saving the liquid – there’ll be about a cup of liquid.

Pumpkin Step 1pumpkin3

  1. Preheat your oven to 350; you may need to bake the pumpkin lower than the middle rack, so check the height now.
  2. Lightly score where you will cut a generous lid in the pumpkin, at least 5″ to 6″ in diameter.
  3. Cut out the lid in the pumpkin, cutting at a 45 degree angle.
  4. Scoop out all of the seeds and fiber.
  5. Combine soy sauce with juice of 1 lemon and plenty of freshly ground pepper in a cup.
  6. Prick the inside of the pumpkin with a fork and brush it with the combined soy sauce and lemon juice.
  7. Line the bottom of a roasting pan with parchment paper and set the pumpkin on it, topside up. The purpose of the parchment is to make it easier to handle/move the pumpkin without distorting it.
  8. If there’s room, in a separate pan add an inch or so of water and put it on the bottom shelf.  This is to keep a little moisture in the oven so the pumpkin doesn’t dry out.
  9. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350. The idea is to get the pumpkin partially, but not completely, cooked.

Stuffing Step 2pumpkin4

  1. When the pumpkin has finished pre-baking and the bread is cool:
  2. Combine everything else in the bowl with the cooled bread.
  3. Chop the onion finely or coarsely depending on how you like to meet onion.
  4. Celery root: slice off the rough outside and chop into 3/8″ to 1/2″ dice.
  5. Briefly saute the onion and celery root in the butter/ghee and add to the bread.
  6. If you are using celery stalk instead, include the leaves, finely chopped.
  7. Crumble the dry sage leaves and add them along with the other dried herbs.
  8. Add melted butter/ghee/olive oil and toss to combine.
  9. Add the lemon zest and olives  (if you used them) to the soaked/drained fruit and combine
  10. Add the soaked fruit, olives and zest to the bread mixture and toss to combine.
  11. Add any left over soy/maple mixture to the reserved liquid.  Start adding it slowly, tossing as you go. You don’t want to make it soggy, just moist.  You’ll probably use about 1/2 cup of liquid.
  12. Add a little soy sauce or salt to taste and lots of freshly ground pepper.
  13. The stuffing can be made a day ahead of time.

Pumpkin Step 2

  1. Preheat the oven to 375
  2. Add 1 T melted ghee or butter or olive oil to the remaining soy sauce/lemon juice mixture. Cook it down in a small pan, reducing it by 1/2.
  3. Brush the pumpkin cavity with this thicker mixture.
  4. Stuff the dressing loosely into the pumpkin, topping with the cap.
  5. Bake until slightly brown and looking a little collapsed. 40-60 minutes, add a bit of foil on top for the last 10 minutes if the stuffing starts to burn.

pumpkin5Serve whole!

You can serve it either by scooping out stuffing and pumpkin with a large spoon, or if the pumpkin seems reasonably firm, by cutting slices as you would a pie. If the pumpkin is your main course cutting slices is a beautiful way to go.