For savory pumpkins:
Wash your pumpkins and cut off the top the same way you would a regular sized jack-o-lantern. Scoop out the seeds, hollow out a bit if necessary and stuff with a filling of your choice. Place on a sheet pan and roast in a 350 degree oven until the flesh is soft and the filling hot. Suggested fillings:
- a dab of butter, a small clove of garlic and a sage leaf or thyme sprig. Or add a tablespoon or two of cream.
- the stuffing of your choice.
- a soup such as Pumpkin Tortilla, Pomegranate Lentil, Hearty Kale and Sausage, Black Bean.
- roasted vegetables like brussels sprouts, cauliflower or red onion.
- a cooked grain such as quinoa, couscous or bulgar mixed with green onion, currants and pinenuts.
- do a mini version of Dorie Greenspan's Filled Pumpkin recipe.
- use as a cocotte for baked eggs with a little butter and cream and perhaps a crumble of already-cooked bacon.
For sweet pumpkins:
Cut off the tops a little lower down to expose a larger surface area. Scrape out seeds and use the minis the same way you would a ramekin.
- fill with pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin pie or creme brulee batter. Bake at the temperature called for in the recipe; you may have to bake a little longer as the pumpkin's sides and flesh are thicker than most ramikins. If you think you'll miss the crust on the pumpkin pie, cut decorative leaves from pie dough, bake, and use as an edible garnish.
- simply dot with butter and sugar or maple syrup and bake.
- bake the lids along side of the bottoms and use as a decoration on your final plating.
Of course, there are many crafty projects for mini pumpkins that don't involve eating them:
- hollow out and use as a votive; or insert an empty glass votive, fill with water and use as a vase.
- with a sharpie and your best penmanship, write guests' name on a pumpkin and use as a place holder.
- or use one pumpkin per letter and line them up on the mantle to say 'welcome" or "Happy Thanksgiving."