I often feel a sting of jealousy at dinners during the holiday season. At first, I thought it was because as vegetarians we often only get to eat the side dishes. But even when we brought our own main course to the table, I found myself staring enviously at the Thanksgiving turkey or Christmas pig. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I want to eat them. It’s just all the fuss around the centerpiece of the table that makes me feel like I’m missing out on something. The initiated talks about cooking techniques, stuffings and their grandmother’s secret method. I also want to join that club.
So this year we stepped things up and decided to try a more impressive dish. Something that is large, heavy and almost can’t fit into the oven. Something that involves carving and stuffing. Something that makes everybody say oooohh and aaaahh, when carried to the table. A salad rarely evokes that kind of reactions. But a pumpkin does. Especially when it is stuffed with wine oozing millet, mushrooms, almonds, goat cheese and cranberries. Folks, this is a showstopper and we hope that you will let it shine on your Thanksgiving or Christmas table this year.
We created this stop-motion video to get you in the right pumpkin party mode!
Holiday Stuffed Pumpkin
We used a 13 lb/6 kg Muscat squash for this, but any eatable pumpkins would work. You can also use smaller pumpkins, like Hokkaido, just remember to adjust the baking time.
1 large pumpkin or 2 smaller pumpkins
1 small knob of coconut oil, ghee or olive oil
Cut a hole on top of the pumpkin, shaping a ‘lid’. Scoop out the seeds and pulp. Rub the inside with oil. Now it is ready to be stuffed.
1 1/2 cup / 300 g uncooked millet or white quinoa
1 large knob of coconut oil, ghee or olive oil
2 large onions, finely chopped
9 oz / 250 g brown mushrooms, quartered
2 large stems kale, stems removed and finely chopped
3 tbsp white wine or water
1 tsp dried thyme
sea salt and pepper
1 cup / 3,5 oz/ 100 g cranberries (fresh, frozen or dried)
1 handful raw almonds, coarsely chopped (use pumpkin seeds for a nut free alternative)
2 stems flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped, save a little for serving
5 1/2 oz / 150 g goat’s or sheep’s feta cheese (optional), save a little for serving
Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F.
Place millet in a sieve and pour over hot water. Rinse and drain. Place in a saucepan and cover with 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat immediately and let gently simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and set aside for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet. Sauté onions, mushrooms and kale for a couple of minutes until soft. Add wine, thyme, salt and pepper and cook for about 5 more minutes. When the liquid is almost evaporated, add cranberries, almonds, parsley and stir to combine. Taste and adjust the flavors. Turn the heat off and remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the cooked millet. Now add the crumbled feat cheese and toss to combine. Fill the pumpkin with the millet stuffing. Place the pumpkin ‘lid’ on top and bake in the oven for about an hour (maybe less or more, adjust to the size of the pumpkin), this depends on the oven and on the size and type of the pumpkin. Check the pumpkin flesh with a knife from time to time and stir around the stuffing with a spoon. The pumpkin is ready when skin is browned and bubbly and the flesh is soft. Garnish with parsley and feta.
This recipe can be prepared ahead and reheated before serving.