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®
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.
ingredients for a large stuffed pumpkin
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. 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.
- pumpkin ~ look for a 7-8 pound pumpkin with firm unblemished skin. It should feel heavy for its weight.
- whole grains
- wild rice
- sweet potato
- dried fruit
- olive oil
- broth or stock
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!
stuffed pumpkin, step by step
This stuffed pumpkin recipe can be broken down into several stages.
- Par bake the pumpkin, whole.
- Cut open the top and scoop out the insides of the pumpkin, including the seeds and stringy bits.
- While the pumpkin is baking make the stuffing.
- Fill the par-baked pumpkin with the stuffing.
- Replace the ‘lid’ and bake until the pumpkin is tender.
- Bring to the table and slice wedges of pumpkin to serve, topped with the stuffing.
how to make a stuffed pumpkin ahead
To get a head start on this spectacular recipe you can par-bake and prep the pumpkin the day before. Get the stuffing ready the day before as well, and refrigerate both. (I start with already cooked grains, rice, and pulses, which can be done up to several days ahead.) Let everything come to room temperature on the counter and then proceed with stuffing and baking the pumpkin.
is this stuffed pumpkin healthy?
Pumpkins are 90% water, and a low calorie superfood. It’s packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, beta carotene and antioxidants.
One cup of canned pumpkin has less than 100 calories and only half a gram of fat. In comparison, the same serving size of sweet potato has triple the calories. They also have more fiber than kale, more potassium than bananas and are full of heart-healthy magnesium and iron. (source: goodhousekeeping.com)
the great stuffed pumpkin presentation
For real drama, bring the whole pumpkin to the table while it is still hot, lift off the top, and watch the steam rise. Carve it into big fat wedges and allow all the beautiful stuffing to tumble out!
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.
more winter squash
- How to Cook Any Type Of Winter Squash
- How to Cook Honeynut Squash
- Pumpkin Alfredo Pasta
- Smokey Pumpkin Chipotle Bisque
- Whipped Kabocha Squash with Vanilla Bean and Nutmeg
The Great Stuffed Pumpkin
- large rimmed baking sheet
- 7-8 lb 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
- Preheat your 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.
Questions and Reviews
Wow! What an awesome dish with beautiful presentation! Sitting on a pewter platter, it would look fit for the Pilgrims’ feast!
I think with the right platter it would be stunning on the table.
That is the most beautiful thing ever!! Love this!
What a great dish to glorify everything that is good about pumpkin. Fabulous looking filling and very photogenic. Nice job.
Absolutely beautiful! I think I need to make this for Thanksgiving this year.
This is so awesome! So much more healthier and easier than a turkey! I’ll be trying this one out, thanks!
Your stuffed pumpkin is a real show stopper! Excellent idea and post.
Turkey is so over-rated 😉
That looks sensational! I just want to dig into that filling!
Stunning! And such a great side (or vegetarian main :). Sending this along to my (vegetarian) daughter, too. She could dig in to this!!
This would be such fun for a vegetarian themed Thanksgiving celebration, hope she likes it Jennifer.
This has to be the prettiest side dish ever. Love all the different textures and flavors. Looks delicious Sue!
Thanks Cheri, I think it would be a fun turkey substitute for a ‘Friendsgiving’, too 🙂
My goodness this is a work of art! Tempting – you bet! Who wouldn’t love to dig into this beautiful vegetable treat! Love all your photos and the creativity – amazing~!
Thanks Tricia, I had fun with this!