The Great Sugar Pumpkin

My colleague, Michele Hatty, likes to play in her kitchen when she isn't running things as Editor of Live Discussions at washingtonpost.com. She recently shared her newfound love for the sugar pumpkin (aka pie pumpkin). Below, her kitchen report -- and perhaps inspiration for last-minute Thanksgiving menus.


Stuffed pumpkin just out of the oven. (Michele Hatty)

Friends joined my husband and me for dinner on a recent Saturday night, and their visit seemed like the perfect opportunity to try something I'd read on food writer Dorie Greenspan's blog: a stuffed pumpkin.

The concept is pretty simple: Take a 2-3 pound sugar pumpkin, cut a lid out the way you might with a jack-o-lantern and scoop out the seeds and strings. But then instead of carving a face in the little guy, stuff it with a mixture of bread, cheese and chopped garlic. Pour some heavy cream laced with nutmeg over the bread mixture, put the lid back on the pumpkin and roast the whole thing at 350 degrees for two hours. What you end up with is an egg-less, bread-and-cheese strata surrounded by tender, fragrant roasted pumpkin. In a word: sublime.

Greenspan notes that you can use just about any combination of bread and cheese. I used Italian bread and Parmigiano because that's what I had on hand. But I think gruyere or brie and French bread or even pumpernickel and white cheddar would be equally scrumptious. I also think my pumpkin may have been smaller than what was called for -- I used a pie pumpkin that was probably closer to one and a half pounds than three pounds. Regardless, it came out really well.

To serve, I used a sharp knife to cut the pumpkin into four parts and we each dove into our personal hunk of pumpkiny goodness, leaving only the pumpkin's skin on our plates by the end. A wonderful treat for a fall evening and one I plan to return to again and again in years to come. Yum!

Have a recent edible discovery such as Michele's to share? Do so in the comments area.

By Kim ODonnel |  November 21, 2008; 7:30 AM ET Dinner Tonight , Thanksgiving , Vegetarian/Vegan
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Comments

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This sounds really good! I'll have to give it a try! :)

Posted by: Merdi | November 21, 2008 8:14 AM

Kim - I made your delicious spiced nuts last year but can't find my copy of the recipe at home, on your MA website or in the WaPo recipe search. Would you please repeat it? Thanks so much.

Posted by: AlexandriaVA1 | November 21, 2008 10:26 AM

kim, i made this with swiss cheese which i usually hate but in this recipe the "bite" of the cheese was just right.

Posted by: quark2 | November 21, 2008 11:06 AM

This sounds outrageously yummy. Would love to serve it in a couple of weeks for a small dinner party of vegetarians. What goes with it? Should this be an app or a side dish? Anyone have thoughts on how to construct a menu around this?

Posted by: sbr929 | November 21, 2008 11:09 AM

I'll definitely have to try this. It sounds fantastic!

Posted by: earlysun | November 21, 2008 11:14 AM

sbr, i think it would depend on the cheese you use. a soft cream cheese would make a very different meal from swiss cheese. since bread is part of the filling i would lean towards having something green & lighter rather than carbs & heavy. spinach or kale maybe? roasted brocoli?

Posted by: quark2 | November 21, 2008 2:17 PM

My pumpkin just went into the oven. It was a little large for the recipe (3 lb. 14 oz.), so I used a little extra bread and cheese (5 oz. each). In the end, I had to stuff it a bit to get everything to fit in.

My variations were to use gorgonzola cheese, toss in some chopped scallions that were in the fridge, and Herbs de Provence instead of nutmeg.

Fingers crossed!

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | November 22, 2008 6:04 PM

In a word, delicious! The flavor of the Herbes de Provence paired perfectly with the gorgonzola. We had to eat the pumpkin some time after it was finished roasting due to dealing with a couple of sick twins. I left the pumpkin to cool slowly in the still warm oven. In that time, something interesting happened. The pumpkin flesh fell away from the skin and so I wound up peeling the skin away. I mixed the strata together with the flesh a bit,

This would be a great addition to a Thanksgiving menu, perhaps to bring as a side dish.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | November 22, 2008 11:18 PM

sbr: I served mine as a starter. I think it could work as a side as well, but it definitely worked as the star of its own course. Good luck!

Posted by: michelehatty | November 24, 2008 11:06 AM

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