When October comes around, I’m overcome by the urge to buy every vegetable possible and stuff it with things. Bread, quinoa, vegetables, tomatoes, cheese, curried chickpeas- the possibilities are endless. Stuffed peppers and stuffed acorn squash are part of my year-round rotation, but I reserve stuffed pumpkins for fall and only for fall.
In the same way that a whiff of Douglas fir brings me straight into mid-December, the scent of this quintessential fall concoction lets me know that it’s my favorite time of year. Fragrant sage, savory cheeses, and a hint of Granny Smith apple all come together to usher in happy memories and make way for new ones. My husband’s birthday is October 28th, with mine falling a day after on the 29th and Halloween nipping at its heels two days later. I’m jumping the gun a bit by making this special dinner now, but it’s never too early to celebrate (or to eat pumpkins, for that matter).
SARAH’S MAGICAL STUFFED PUMPKIN
Serves 4 (or 2 really hungry people)
2 individual-sized sugar pie pumpkins (around 5″ in diameter)
1/2 tsp. olive oil
3 cups Sourdough bread, torn into small chunks
1 cup freshly grated cheese (I use a combination of smoked cheddar and baby swiss)
1 packed cup kale, ribs removed and leaves chopped
1/2 medium Granny Smith or other tart apple, chopped
1/4 cup walnut halves
2 tsp. or 4 cloves minced garlic (use less if you’re not a garlic fanatic like I am)
2 fresh sage leaves or 1/2 tsp. dried sage
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Herbamare or salt to taste
1/3 cup low-fat milk, divided (whole milk is fine- don’t use skim!)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If desired, toast walnuts in a skillet with some cooking spray over medium heat until just fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and add sage leaves. Toast for 60 seconds. Remove immediately from pan, let cool, then chop finely.
2. Cut off the top of the pumpkin the way you would for a jack-o-lantern. Remove seeds and pulp using an ice cream scoop, reserving seeds for later use (toasting… mmm…). Rub exposed pumpkin flesh with olive oil.
5. Place pumpkins in casserole dish and bake with the pumpkin tops on for 45 minutes. Remove tops and bake for 10-30 minutes more until pumpkin flesh is tender and easily pierced with a fork. Let cool, then devour!
Guess what arrived in the mail, just in time for our birthdays! There was no return address, but I can only assume this person must know us and our love of pumpkins and octopi quite well. And yes, before you ask, that is indeed an octopumpkin.