Dorie Greenspan’s Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good

published Nov 4, 2021
Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good Recipe

This culinary arts-and-craft project is just as tasty as it is fun to make.

Serves2 to 4

Prep20 minutes

Cook1 hour 20 minutes

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Pumpkin stuffed with bread cubes, kale, bacon on sage green plate. Slice has been served on smaller white plate. There is gold flatware and servingware, and a cloth napkin. A glass of red wine is in the upper right
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Prop Styling: Andie McMahon

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There are many ways to vary this arts-and-crafts project. Instead of bread, I’ve filled the pumpkin with cooked rice — when it’s baked, it’s almost risotto-like. And, with either bread or rice, on different occasions I’ve added cooked spinach, kale, chard, or peas (the peas came straight from the freezer). I’ve made it without bacon, and I’ve also made it and loved, loved, loved it with cooked sausage meat; cubes of ham are another good idea. Nuts are a great addition, as are chunks of apple or pear or pieces of chestnut.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Prop Styling: Andie McMahon

Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good Recipe

This culinary arts-and-craft project is just as tasty as it is fun to make.

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 1 hour 20 minutes

Serves 2 to 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1

    (about 3-pound) baking pumpkin

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper, divided

  • 4 ounces

    stale bread (about 4 slices)

  • 4 ounces

    Gruyère or Emmental cheese

  • 3 cloves

    garlic

  • 4 slices

    cooked bacon

  • 1/4 cup

    thinly sliced fresh chives or scallions

  • 6 sprigs

    fresh thyme

  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup heavy cream

  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the lower of the oven and heat the oven to 350ºF.

  2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment. With this method, you can present it freestanding, but maneuvering a heavy stuffed pumpkin with a softened shell isn’t so easy. However, since I love the way the unencumbered pumpkin looks in the center of the table, I’ve always taken my chances with the baked-on-a-sheet method, and so far, I’ve been lucky.

  3. Alternatively, bake in a Dutch oven with a diameter that’s just a tiny bit larger than your pumpkin. The pumpkin will keep its shape, but might stick to the casserole, so you’ll have to serve it from the pot—which is an appealingly homey way to serve it.

  4. Using a very sturdy knife — and caution — cut a cap out of the top of 1 (about 3-pound) pumpkin (think Halloween jack-o’-lantern). It’s easiest to work your knife around the top of the pumpkin at a 45-degree angle. You want to cut off enough of the top to make it easy for you to work inside the pumpkin. Clear away the seeds and strings from the cap and from inside the pumpkin. Season the inside of the pumpkin with 1/4 teaspoon of the kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper, and put it on the baking sheet or in the pot.

  5. Prepare the following, placing each in the same large bowl as you complete it: Thinly slice 4 ounces stale bread, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces (4 cups). Cut 4 ounces Gruyère or Emmental cheese (or a combination) into 1/2-inch cubes (1 cup). Remove the germ from the middle of 3 garlic cloves, then coarsely chop the cloves. Coarsely chop 4 strips cooked bacon. Thinly slice until you have 1/4 cup fresh chives or scallions. Pick the leaves from 6 fresh thyme sprigs until you have about 1 tablespoon, then finely chop.

  6. Toss everything in the bowl to combine. Transfer the mixture into the pumpkin -- it should be well filled and you can pack it in—you might have a little too much filling (see Recipe Notes if you have extra filling), or you might need to add to it.

  7. Stir 1/2 cup of heavy cream with a pinch of grated nutmeg, remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and pour it into the pumpkin. Again, you might have too much or too little—you don’t want the ingredients to swim in cream, but you do want them nicely moistened. (But it’s hard to go wrong here.)

  8. Put the cap in place. Bake the pumpkin until everything inside the pumpkin is bubbling and the flesh of the pumpkin is tender enough to be pierced easily with the tip of a knife, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Because the pumpkin will have exuded liquid, I like to remove the cap during the last 20 minutes or so, so that the liquid can bake away and the top of the stuffing can brown a little.

  9. When the pumpkin is ready, carefully, very carefully — it’s heavy, hot, and wobbly — bring it to the table or transfer it to a platter that you’ll bring to the table.

Serving options:

  1. You have choices: you can cut wedges of the pumpkin and filling; you can scoop out portions of the filling, making sure to get a generous amount of pumpkin into the spoonful; or you can dig into the pumpkin with a big spoon, pull the pumpkin meat into the filling, and then mix everything up. I’m a fan of the pull-and-mix option.

  2. Served in hearty portions followed by a salad, the pumpkin is a perfect cold-weather main course; served in generous spoonfuls or wedges, it’s just right alongside the Thanksgiving turkey.

Recipe Notes

Variation: You can substitute 8 ounces cooked sausage for the bacon and add 1 diced apple and 2 cups coarsely chopped kale leaves to the filling if desired.

Storage: It’s really best to eat this as soon as it’s ready. However, if you’ve got leftovers, you can scoop them out of the pumpkin, mix them up, cover, and chill them; reheat them the next day.

Note: Depending on the size of your pumpkin, you might have some filling leftover. If so, transfer the leftovers into a small greased baking dish such as a loaf pan and bake alongside the pumpkin until puffed lightly browned.

Excerpted from Around My French Table: More than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours © 2010 by Dorie Greenspan. Photography © 2010 by Alan Richardson. Reproduced by permission of Mariner Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.