When I was a child, mom HATED carving pumpkins. I never understood this until I then tried to carve my own for the very first time. Have you ever tried to gut a pumpkin? The smell is… well… distinctive. You’ll never forget that smell for the rest of your life. It isn’t even a bad smell, but it is very distinctive.
The feel of pumpkin innards isn’t all that pleasant either. Unlike a lot of other squash, pumpkins have this amazing combination of stringy, spongy, slimy, and springy. You need a rather sharp spoon or a very strong hand to adequately carve out the insides.
So now I understand exactly why my mother hated carving pumpkins. Mom, listen up… "You were right."
Now that I’ve made my mother happy for the day, we’ll move on to today’s recipe – Stuffed Pumpkins!
Yes, we’re not only going to partially carve a pumpkin, we’re going to stuff it full of all sorts of goodness and bake it in the oven. We got a couple of pie pumpkins from our CSA, Growing Washington.
- 2 small pie pumpkins
- 2 links of hot Italian Sausage (ours was from Skagit River Ranch)
- 2 cups Emmer from Bluebird Grain Farms (or white or brown rice)
- 1 large onion
- Any of the following:
- Fresh hot peppers
- Parmesan cheese
- Chopped kale or spinach
Start by cutting the top off your pumpkin. You want to make the opening at least big enough to fit your hand. Trust me on this.
Scrape out the innards. Save them though! Afterwards we’re going to separate out the seeds.
Start cooking the emmer or the rice.
When the pumpkin is nice and clean inside (which could take you up to 15 minutes), rub a little olive oil inside and bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until the inside of the pumpkin is starting to soften. The outside should still be rigid.
While the pumpkin is cooking, take the sausage out of its casing and saute until most of the pink is gone.
Dice the onion, and any of the other vegetables you want to throw in. Cook them in with the pork for 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the emmer or rice, and the sausage mixture. Add some Parmesan cheese and any spices you want. Suggestions include smoked paprika, sea salt and pepper, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, nutmeg, or thyme.
Stuff the pumpkin with the mixture and return to the oven for an additional 20-30 minutes, or until the pumpkin has softened to be nearly fork tender from the outside.
Serve, being very careful eating as the inside of the pumpkin is very hot.
Patricia’s Notes: This was quite tasty. I didn’t cook my pumpkins long enough, so I didn’t eat quite as much squash as I would have preferred. I used a mixture of smoked paprika and nutmeg for the spices and the dish had a spicy sweetness to it. I would definitely make these again, especially if someone gave me a pre-scooped pumpkin. I spent about 20 minutes separating out the pumpkin seeds afterwards, and tomorrow we’ll roast them up for a tasty snack.
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