This stuffed pumpkin recipe is a dramatic side dish or vegetarian main course ~ I guarantee it will command center stage on your table. Perfect for Friendsgiving!
*This post is in partnership with Swanson® ~ thank you for supporting me and the brands I work with, I promise to bring you only the very best!
I love recipes that glorify vegetables, they so rarely get to bask in the spotlight. Just imagine pulling this steaming whole roasted pumpkin out of your oven, bringing it to the table, and slicing it open to reveal a treasure trove of grains, nuts, fruits and veggies tumbling forth. It’s dramatic, it’s delicious, and it rivals any turkey or rack of lamb, if you ask me.
I was inspired by one of my favorite cookbook authors, Anna Thomas, who has a version of this in her latest book Vegan Vegetarian Omnivore. The premise of the book is that with a little bit of forethought you can feed everyone at your table well, despite widely varying dietary needs. I think it’s such a great concept because it’s something we all struggle with. At our Thanksgiving table I have a brother-in-law who can’t eat red meat, a sister who doesn’t eat pork, a nephew with a nut allergy, another who is vegan, a daughter who is gluten intolerant, and a close friend who eats nothing but veggies and cheese. Holiday meals can be challenging!
TIP: The key to creating a vegetarian dish that tempts even the carnivores at the table? Flavor! I cooked the grains and rices for this stuffing in Swanson® Vegetable Broth instead of water, and that infuses the whole dish with a depth of flavor from the ground up.
I used a mix of hearty grains and rice in this recipe, including barley, farro, wheat berries, quinoa, and wild rice. It’s essentially a multi-grain pilaf, enriched with veggies, nuts, and dried fruits. The grains have a wonderful texture and ‘chew factor’, but flavor isn’t their strong suit. That’s where Swanson broth comes in. When you cook grains and rices in broth, they literally absorb its flavor as they simmer and swell up. That foundation of savory flavor makes a big difference when you’re cooking without animal protein.
TIP: For a variation try filling a pumpkin with regular stuffing. If you eat meat, I love the idea of using my Pumpkin Cornbread with Country Sausage and Sage Stuffing. Kinda makes the turkey obsolete!
This stuffed pumpkin recipe can be broken down into several stages. I assemble my stuffing the day before, and let it come to room temperature the next day while I par-bake my pumpkin.
After I stuff the pumpkin I moisten everything with more Swanson Vegetable Broth right before I pop it in the oven, that infuses even MORE flavor and allows everything to steam beautifully.
An hour and a half later, bring it to the table, lift off the top, watch the steam rise, and carve it into big fat wedges.
TIP: Keep in mind that if you want to serve this table-side, you’ll need a pretty large round dish or platter to hold the stuffed pumpkin, and the wedges as they fall away, so plan ahead.
The Great Stuffed Pumpkin
- 1 large pumpkin about 7-8 pounds
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion peeled and diced
- 1 cup diced celery plus inner leaves
- 3 cloves garlic peeled and smashed
- 6 cups cooked grains I used barley, farro, wheat berries, and quinoa, (cook in Swanson Vegetable Broth for extra flavor)
- 1 cup cooked wild rice
- 1 cup cooked lentils I used red and green
- 2 Tbsp fresh sage chopped
- 1 large sweet potato peeled, diced, and cooked until just tender
- 1 cup toasted nuts I used walnuts, almonds, pistachios and pecans
- 1 cup chopped dried fruit I used cranberries, raisins, and apricots
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup Swanson Vegetable Broth
- Pomegranate seeds
- Set oven to 375F
- Pierce the top of the pumpkin with the tip of a sharp knife several times and put it on a baking sheet with a lip. Bake the pumpkin for 45 minutes, or until it just starts to give when you press on the side.
- Remove the pumpkin and let it cool slightly.
- Cut a circle around the stem of the pumpkin, just like you would for a jack-o-lantern. Make it at least 6 inches across, or big enough so you can scoop out the interior of the pumpkin and stuff it.
- Scoop all the seeds and stringy bits out of the pumpkin.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and saute the onion, garlic, and celery for about 15 minutes until the onion has softened.
- Combine the cooked grains, rice, and lentils with the sauteed vegetables in a very large bowl (or divide the mixtures between 2 large bowls if you need to.)
- Mix in the sage, sweet potato, nuts, and dried fruit. Make sure everything gets thoroughly combined. Season well with salt and pepper to taste.
- Fill the interior of the par-cooked pumpkin with the stuffing. Replace the top and place on the baking sheet with a lip. Add a cup of water to the bottom of the pan. Bake the pumpkin for approximately 1 1/2 hours, or until everything is steaming hot and the pumpkin is tender. Add more water to the baking sheet as needed.
- Remove the pumpkin carefully to a platter. Remove the top and slice into wedges. Serve the wedges with the stuffing spooned over the top. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and pepitas.
- If you’re not quite up for stuffing a huge pumpkin, try this idea with a smaller winter squash like kabocha. Look for a large round specimen, and stuff it in the same manner. You can cut the recipe down as needed.