Recipe Review

This Cheesy Stuffed Pumpkin Is a Stunning Main Everyone Will Love

updated Nov 17, 2022
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

The Thanksgiving meal is a celebration of autumnal flavors, and nothing captures the festive season quite like stuffing. Five years ago, I took inspiration from food writer Dorie Greenspan and promoted my favorite side dish to center stage by baking stuffing inside a whole pumpkin. The pumpkin is filled with savory mushrooms, hearty kale, cornbread, fresh herbs, and a Dijon-spiked custard before it’s topped with nutty Gruyère cheese. A wedge of this stuffed pumpkin is the ultimate holiday centerpiece.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Why Make This Cornbread, Mushroom, and Kale-Stuffed Pumpkin?

A whole baked pumpkin packed to the brim with a flavorful stuffing and served with a cap of bubbling and browned cheese is an unexpected addition to the traditional Thanksgiving day menu. Carefully transfer the pumpkin from the baking sheet to a platter before presenting slices of tender, orange pumpkin filled with emerald kale, golden cornbread, and mahogany-hued mushrooms.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

How to Make a Vegetarian Stuffed Pumpkin

  • Soak then chop dried porcini mushrooms. Cover dried porcini mushrooms in hot water and soak until pliable. Reserve some of the soaking liquid, and chop the mushrooms into bite-size pieces.
  • Hollow out and season the pumpkin. Scoop out the seeds and stringy-bits from the pumpkin, then season with kosher salt and black pepper.
  • Mix cornbread, cheese, and herbs. Toss staled cornbread, Gruyère cheese, and fresh thyme and sage leaves together in a large bowl.
  • Sauté vegetables and toss with cornbread. Sauté onion, mushrooms, garlic, and kale in butter until tender. Deglaze with white wine or porcini soaking liquid. Add the vegetables to the cornbread and toss to combine.
  • Make custard. Whisk eggs, heavy cream, Dijon mustard, nutmeg, and salt together, and then pour over the stuffing mixture.
  • Stuff the pumpkin. Spoon the stuffing mixture into the prepared pumpkin and replace the lid.
  • Bake the pumpkin. Bake the pumpkin until the filling is bubbling, brown, and an instant-read thermometer registers 160°F, about 2 hours.
  • Top with cheese and broil. Remove the pumpkin lid and sprinkle Gruyère cheese over the top. Broil until the cheese is browned and bubbly.
Credit: Joe Lingeman

If You’re Making This Vegetarian Stuffed Pumpkin, a Few Tips

  • Choose a squat pumpkin for superior slices. Cinderella, fairytale, or other stout heirloom pumpkins are the best for this stuffed pumpkin centerpiece. Check your grocery store or local farm stands for these pumpkins.
  • Other types of bread may be substituted. Cornbread adds autumnal flavor and a distinct texture to the stuffing, but country-style or sourdough loaves may be substituted. You may need to increase the amount of custard, as these breads are heartier than cornbread.
  • Rub the exterior with oil. Get extra shine and encourage browning by rubbing the outside of the pumpkin with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil.