What an amazing time of year in the North American food calendar. The summer harvest has wound down but the fall harvest is still in full swing. The food is as good as it gets. This dish is supremely seasonal and perfect to tote along for a Friendsgiving potluck dinner. The herbs and lentils give it a savory and meaty flavor that can satisfy even your most enthusiastic carnivores.
Want it with meat? No problem. Just brown and add italian sausage and half the amount of fennel seed.
Vegetarian Stuffed Pumpkin
Serves 4-8 Prep Time 60 minutes
- 1-2 pumpkins (Late in the season it’s easier to find the smaller ones for pie. If you make this in October you have the pick of the litter and can make it with some really big jack o lantern style pumpkins.)
- 1 cup of brown or wild rice
- 1 cup dried lentils
- 1 cup of corn kernels
- One leek or large onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese
- 2 cups of chicken stock/broth
- ground sage
- fennel seeds
- dried thyme
- kosher salt
- cracked black pepper
- olive oil
Preheat to 375f / 190c
Slice off the top of the pumpkin and scoop out the guts. Set the seeds aside for roasting later.
Salt and pepper, then put the top back on the pumpkin, and place in the heated oven with a 30 minute timer set.
Get working on the rice, follow instructions based on which grain you use. Brown rice is just fine but the wild rice gives it a more distinct flavor and look.
Meanwhile, in a separate pot, saute your sliced leek with olive oil, salt and pepper. Keep the heat on medium / medium low if using a leek. They’re more sensitive to the high heat than a regular onion. Once it’s melted down a bit add chopped garlic, the chicken stock and the lentils. Salt and pepper again, add a layer of sage, thyme and fennel seeds and cover. Simmer the lentils 20-30 minutes to soften.
Check on the pumpkins. You want the flesh to be soft inside but not quite separating from the skin yet. Poke with a fork, if it yields it’s done. Take out of the oven and set aside.
Once the rice is finished and the lentils are cooked, combine the two and mix in the grated parmesan. You really can’t add too much cheese. I put down a cup as a guide but the point is to add the cheese until the mixture is saturated. Taste throughout, the herbs and fennel seed should give the stuffing the flavor of sausage. If it’s bland add more cheese or salt. Not savory enough? Add more herbs. Feeling fancy? Toss in a thick pat of butter. It’s the holidays! Live a little!
Stuff the pumpkins with the mixture and cover the top with a layer of parmesan. Place back in the oven for 10-15 minutes.
Serve with a large spoon for scooping or slice the pumpkin into wedges for plating.
This will keep warm for a long time. You can prep it at home, wrap it in foil and a towel and bring it to your party.