How to stuff a small pumpkin with a vegetarian stew of peppers, tomatillos and hominy, then bake it in small individual pie pumpkins or one large pumpkin. Very dramatic in appearance and very tasty eating, too! Vegetarian, easily converted to vegan, perfect for a Thanksgiving vegetarian entrée.
This recipe is featured in the brand-new collection of Thanksgiving vegetable recipes at A Veggie Venture, see Favorite Recipes for Thanksgiving's Favorite Vegetables.
Once upon a time, I had visions of cooking stew in whole pumpkins in a campfire. So one cool-ish fall afternoon, we stuffed small pumpkins with bits of pork and vegetables, then poured spicy V-8 over top.
If indeed “hunger is the best sauce,” by rights, those should have been the best darned pumpkins EVER. We were famished and they looked so promising, all plump and pretty tucked into white-hot coals.
Time passed, we poked the flesh: raw. We added fuel to the fire until it snapped and crackled. More time passed, we poked the pumpkins again: still impenetrable.
In the field, improvise. We reversed the meal’s order, munching apples roasted on sticks intended for dessert. We put out crackers and cheese. But in the end, we abandoned the pumpkins to the crows and coons and found ourselves a steakhouse.
Still the stew-stuffed pumpkin idea stuck in my brain. Lucky day, the Vegetarian Times newsletter arrived gushing praise for a tomatillo and hominy stew cooked in a pumpkin in an oven. (Smart folk, those vegetarians, how modern!) Nothing like a great recipe and a proven technique to reignite my vision of cooking stew in whole pumpkins.
And OH, this stew! The tomatillos and hominy are a magical combination. Eat this dish with a spoon, scooping out soft pumpkin and stew together. Every so often, surprise! bite into creamy cheddar – in fact, I liked the cheese surprise so much I’ve actually doubled the amount. (When was the last time that happened, anyone?)
This would make a great vegetarian entrée for Thanksgiving, it’s hearty, it’s filling, it plates with such dramatic flourish. Isn’t it pretty?!
Or put this one on your must-make list for another fall occasion, maybe the first fire in the fireplace – just use the oven, the hot, even-cooking, no-stoking-required oven, for cooking the stuffed pumpkin.
FALL STEW BAKED in a WHOLE PUMPKIN
Time to table: 2-1/4 to 3 hours
Makes 3 cups stew (see TIPS)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon chili powder (see TIPS)
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 pound tomatillos, husked and chopped
- 15 ounces canned hominy, drained
- 3/4 teaspoon table salt
PUMPKINS (per serving)
- Small pie pumpkin, 1 to 1-1/2 pounds
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 ounce grated cheddar cheese (omit for vegan dish)
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment.
STEW In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil on medium high until shimmery. Add the onions, peppers and garlic as they’re prepped, stirring to coat with fat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions and peppers begin to soften. Stir in the spices and cook for about 3 minutes.
Add the water, tomatillos, hominy and salt, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a slow simmer and cook, partially covered, until the tomatillos soften, about 10 minutes. If needed, uncover and let the liquid cook off a bit.
TO MAKE AHEAD OF TIME Finish the stew and refrigerate. Just before baking, return to a boil and then continue.
PUMPKINS While the stew cooks, wash the pumpkins well. Insert a knife at the “shoulder” of the pumpkin (this makes the widest possible opening while preserving the greatest height) and cut around the pumpkin to form a lid. With a grapefruit spoon or something similar, scrape the seeds and strings out of the pumpkins.
Rub the interior of the pumpkins with olive oil. Sprinkle a half ounce of cheese in the bottom of each pumpkin. Fill the pumpkin halfway with the stew mixture, add another half ounce of cheese, then continue filling.
Place the lids back onto the pumpkins and transfer to the baking sheet. Bake for 1-1/2 to 2 hours until the pumpkin flesh is fork tender. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
TIMING I think that the pumpkins are forgiving, timing-wise. Mine finished in 90 minutes but I left them in the oven another 30 minutes or so without any issue.
Stew Only, Per Cup: 216 Calories; 9g Tot Fat; 3g Sat Fat; 9mg Cholesterol; 855mg Sodium; 27g Carb; 11g Fiber; 12g Sugar; 7g Protein; Weight Watchers Old Points 4 & PointsPlus 6
Pumpkin Only Per Cup: 30 Calories; 0g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 1mg Sodium; 8g Carb; 1g Fiber; 2g Sugar; 2g Protein; Weight Watchers Old Points .5 & PointsPlus 1
The Campfire Stew That Wasn't
Are You Up for Baking a Whole Pumpkin?
I've tried four recipes for stuffed pumpkins now. The Campfire Stew didn't turn out so well but these others look oh-so-dramatic and taste, yes, oh-so-good.
Mad for Pumpkin? Still More Pumpkin Recipes!
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~ more pumpkin recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture, my food blog
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