Sunday, November 18, 2012

It's the Great Stuffed Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

Setting aside the violence inherent in the system of its preparation, stuffed pumpkin makes a lovely fall or winter meal; it's especially especially festive as part of a big holiday spread like the one that's coming up later this week. Of course, with all the vegetables, fruit, nuts, etc. in the stuffing, some gravy, and a scoop of cranberry sauce would turn it into a complete meal all by itself (although nice green salad wouldn't come amiss). For this recipe, I used one of the cute little pumpkins that escaped becoming a jack-o'-lantern this Halloween, but it would work equally well with acorn, butternut, or other winter squash. 

Great Stuffed Pumpkin
~ 1 sugar pumpkin (or winter squash), sliced in half with the seeds removed
~ 1 tbsp. olive oil
~ 1 large onion, diced
~ 1 tbsp. minced garlic
~ 1 stalk celery, diced
~ 1 large apple, chopped
~ 1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries (optional)
~ 1/2 lb. mushrooms, chopped
~ 1 tsp. each: sage, marjoram
~ 1/2 tsp. each: thyme, rosemary, dill
~ Good pinch mace or nutmeg
~ Fresh black pepper
~ 1-2 tbsp. maple syrup
~ Up to 1 cup vegetable stock
~ 2-3 cups chopped leafy greens
~ 1 cup chopped, toasted walnuts
~ 1 slice stale or toasted bread, crumbled fine
~ 1/3-1/2 cup nutritional yeast

~ Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.
~ Sprinkle the cut side of the pumpkin halves with salt and pepper, and place them cut side down on the cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour, until the flesh is tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven and set aside.
~ While your squash is baking, saute the onion, garlic, celery, and parsnip over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, adding vegetable stock as needed to prevent sticking.
~ Add the mushrooms and dry seasonings, and cook another 10 minutes, until the mushrooms have released their liquid and are beginning to brown.
~ Stir in the maple syrup, greens, walnuts, cranberries (if using), bread crumbs, and the nutritional yeast. Mix until well combined and cook another 5 minutes or so, stirring often; if it seems too dry (remember it will firm up while baking), add a bit more stock. 
~ Spoon the stuffing into the pumpkin halves, top with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, andy and bake at 375 degrees oven for 25-30 minutes, or until nicely browned (ovens vary, so keep an eye on them).
~ Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before cutting into slices and serving.

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