Fall Stew Baked in a Whole Pumpkin

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.

Fall Stew Baked in a Whole Pumpkin

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.

ALANNA’s TIPS As written, the stew recipe yields three cups in volume. Here, three cups was just enough to fill the two smallest pumpkins I could find, a lady-size gal weighing just over a pound, a man-sized fella that weighed in at nearly a pound and a half. If your pumpkins are larger, bulk up the stew quantity, for you do want to fill the pumpkins. A “pie” pumpkin is grown for eating, unlike carving pumpkins which are grown for jack o’ lanterns. Some times they are called “sugar” pumpkins. An acorn squash or another winter squash would work too. To save some calories, add a half pound of fresh mushrooms to the onion-pepper mixture and use only a half can of hominy.
My recipe is adapted from Vegetarian Times. The inspiring recipe uses just one large pumpkin as the cooking vessel, which would add its own drama to the table. They also suggest a cucumber-poblano-avocado salsa to serve alongside that other cooks rave about. I intended to make it but ran out of time.
Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

FALL STEW BAKED in a WHOLE PUMPKIN

Hands-on time: 40 minutes
Time to table: 2-1/4 to 3 hours
Makes 3 cups stew (see TIPS)
    STEW
  • 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.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE I struggled with how to calculate the nutrition for this dish. In the end, I decided to separate the stew and the pumpkin, then for the stew, to stick with the portion regimen used across this site, per cup even though it will likely take more than one cup to fill even a small pumpkin.

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


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.

~ Stuffed Pumpkin with Apple & Cranberry ~
~ Whole Pumpkin Baked with Custard ~
~ How to Roast a Whole Pumpkin ~
from A Veggie Venture, my food blog about vegetables

Mad for Pumpkin? Still More Pumpkin Recipes!

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars Autumn Pumpkin Bread Pumpkin Bread Pudding
~ more pumpkin recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade

~ Pumpkin Corn Bread ~
~ Supper Casserole with Pumpkin & Green Chile Cornbread Topping ~
~ Honey Pumpkin Pie ~
~ more pumpkin recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture, my food blog

More Vegetarian Supper Recipes

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Broccoli Rigatoni with Chickpeas & Lemon Squash & Carrot Stew Two-Way Lentil Skillet (Black Lentils with Tofu)

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These look great. I've been wanted something special that was vegetarian and vegan to serve over all the holidays. This will be it for sure! I like your tips and I might just add some pureed dried peppers to the stock.

Really love what you are sharing these days!
 
super idea ... we were at a wedding in maine in aug and they had cream soup in an uncooked squash ... the presentation was lovely but the serving of soup small and it seemed such a waste to not be able to scoop up some squash
 
That campfire stew sounds like such a great idea; too bad it didn't really pan out, but hey- you got this recipe, didn't you? Sounds amazing, too! I would have never thought to put cheese in there, but cheese ALWAYS makes everything taste better :) And I love the presentation, too- it's totally the perfect fall dish.
 
I love the idea of this fall stew served in a pumpkin. Looks so adorable and yummy too!
 
Campfire stew doesn't have to be completely out of the question! Have you tried wrapping the whole thing in tin foil to keep the moisture all in one place...like an oven? It's worth a shot!
 

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