Savory Stuffed Pumpkin with Rice, Kale, and Cheese

pumpkin stuffed with rice, kale, onions and cheese

Halloween is obviously over, but we are NOT done with pumpkins! Clearly, we still have pies ahead of us at Thanksgiving and I firmly believe that we should continue to honor the hearty squash by utilizing it to its fullest potential between now and the end of the season. Combining savory pumpkin with kale, rice, cheese and baking it whole makes a delicious – and dramatic-to-serve-to-guests – fall dish.

 

As we previously discussed, making Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good is an annual event in my house. Dorie Greenspan’s fantastic recipe is very much a include-what-you-like sort of recipe, so I thought I’d post about our go-to method – filled with risotto-like creamy rice, tender kale, onion, and cheese, it’s a delicious and filling way to round out any meal (or, in my case, serve as a vegetarian main dish).

 

 

 

 

One important note about this recipe: it takes a long time to cook. Honestly, I wouldn’t count it as a weeknight meal (at least not at my house, where I’m often not home until 630-7pm). We love it instead for a cozy Sunday night dinner, where a two-hour baking time doesn’t mean starting dinner at 9pm. This recipe is also extremely versatile, as you’ll see in Dorie’s original recipe, she suggests adding bread chunks, you can put in meat and nuts (which I imagine the salty/hearty thing is quite delicious) and also play with spices (she suggests nutmeg). Because we grow kale, we always have plenty in the garden and that’s an easy veggie for us to bulk it up with (and the kale/pumpkin combo is divine, too!)

 

One other key point: be sure to buy a sugar pie pumpkin, you definitely don’t want a regular Halloween carving pumpkin. I hear those are not delicious!

 

Enjoy, and happy fall!

 

Savory Stuffed Pumpkin

Prep

Cook

Inactive

Total

Yield 2-4

A hearty and savory fall dish that works perfectly as a vegetarian main or satisfying side.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white rice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch lacinato kale, stripped from the stem and thinly sliced
  • 1 sugar pie pumpkin, about 3 pounds
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 pound cheese, such as swiss or Emmenthal, into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 2–4 garlic cloves (to taste), split, germ removed, and coarsely chopped
  • About 1 cup milk
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Cook rice, per package directions. Set aside to cool slightly (this can certainly be made a day or so in advance)
  2. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
  3. In a large sautée pan over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then place onion and cook until opaque and slightly browned. Scoop onion into a large bowl and set aside.
  4. In the same pan, add the second tablespoon of oil, and when hot, add the kale and season with salt and pepper (it's okay if the kale is still a bit wet from being washed). Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until all the water has evaporated and the kale has softened. Add about 1/4 cup of water and cover pan. Let kale steam for about 5-7 minutes, again until the water has evaporated and the kale is quite tender. Remove lid and cook for a few minutes longer. When fully cooked, add to bowl with onions. 
  5. Add rice and cheese to kale/onion mixture. Stir well, taste, and add more salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Using a sturdy knife, cut a cap out of the top of the pumpkin. Cut off enough of the top to make it easy  to work inside the pumpkin. Clear away the seeds and strings from the cap and from inside the pumpkin.
  7. Season the inside of the pumpkin generously with salt and pepper, and put it on the baking sheet.
  8. Pack the pumpkin with the rice mixture - I like to stuff it in there pretty solidly. 
  9. Pour in milk, with the intent of having everything nicely moistened. I usually pour it in slowly, and once I can see a bit of milk not absorbing at the top, I know it's done
  10. Put the cap in place and bake the pumpkin for about 2 hours — check after 90 minutes — or 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. Because the pumpkin will have exuded liquid, 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.
  11. When the pumpkin is ready, carefully — it's heavy, hot, and wobbly — bring it to the table or transfer it to a platter. Enjoy!

Notes

 

  • Don't be tempted to take the pumpkin out of the oven early! Otherwise you'll be eating semi-raw pumpkin for dinner. Depending on the size of your pumpkin, it can take longer than 2 hours.
  • I often have leftover "stuffing," which is still tasty, even without the pumpkin

Courses Dinner

 

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