Take a trip to the farmers' market this time of the year and it will be hard to miss the intense spread of orange before you. It is pumpkin season and stalls are lined with all varieties of edible and ornamental squash. And I, for one, am thrilled. There is so much about this squash that I look forward to. Homemade pumpkin pies, soups, and stuffed pumpkins.
Stuffing a pumpkin requires a little work but the rewards are well worth it. The following are four easy steps I have complied that attempt to simplify this endeavor. The stuffing itself can be made and kept in the refrigerator from the night before.
How to stuff a pumpkin:
1. Choose a pumpkin. Pie pumpkins - or sugar pie pumpkins or sugar pumpkins, as they are sometimes called - are smaller and easier to handle than other edible pumpkins, so this is my first choice. And the flesh itself is sweeter than other pumpkins. A three pound pie pumpkin is enough to serve four people.
2. Prepare the pumpkin. Using a damp paper towel, wipe the pumpkin clean. Cut the top off about two inches below the stalk. Then scoop out the guts (seeds and stringy bits.) I find the easiest way to do this is by using a dinner spoon. Once all of the guts have been removed, place the pumpkin on a baking sheet and brush the interior with a mixture of vegetable oil, salt, and pepper.
3. Bake the pumpkin at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes until the flesh is fork tender. Remove from the oven and spoon in a filling mixture (See recipe below.) Return to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. To serve, you can do one of two ways: cut into wedges, or scoop out the insides, trying to get chunks of pumpkin with the filling as you do.
Pepper and Onion Filling
6 to 8 slices prosciutto or bacon
1 onion, diced
2 bell peppers, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 sprig rosemary, minced
3 slices day-old bread, cubed
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 cup grated cheddar
1 cup grated mozzarella
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1. Cook the prosciutto or bacon in a skillet until browned. Remove and add two tablespoons of vegetable oil (if you used bacon you might have enough fat in the skillet already) and the onions, bell peppers, garlic, and rosemary. Cook until softened, about 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl and allow to cool before adding the remaining ingredients. (Adding the cheese to the hot pepper-onion mixture will cause it to melt and you'd have a messing time trying to spoon the mixture into the hollowed pumpkin.)
2. Once the pepper-onion mixture has cooled, add the remaining ingredients, mixing well so that the dried bread cubes absorb all the liquid.