Incredible Stuffed Pumpkin — 5 stars

During a week-long orientation for my new job, I discussed recipes with a fellow new employee.  This woman described something she called “the incredible stuffed pumpkin” — an entire sugar pumpkin, stuffed with cheese and bread and bacon.  At some point, I stopped paying attention to what she was saying and began dreaming about the day I would make an incredible stuffed pumpkin for a dinner party.  That day finally came last week.  I plated the pumpkin to many ooos and ahhhs from the girls in my new Dinner Club.

I found the recipe for Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good on NPR’s site.  It calls for a three pound pumpkin, and you should use a sugar pumpkin or some other pumpkin that can be used for pumpkin pie.  I’m told (by many internet sites, so that makes it true) that your traditional pumpkins used for jack-o-lanterns are no good for eating.  I had to omit the bacon since a vegetarian was coming to dinner, so I added sauteed spinach and mushrooms instead.  The pumpkin takes only about 15-30 minutes to prepare, but nearly two hours to bake, so make sure you allow adequate time for everything.

Also on the menu for this dinner party was Cooking Light’s spinach & artichoke dip; pear, red onion, feta cheese, and spinach salad with a delicious balsamic vinaigrette sauce; apple crisp with Edy’s light ice cream that doesn’t taste light at all.  Everyone at dinner agreed that the pumpkin really was incredible.

Ingredients

1 3lb sugar pumpkin
3 oz stale bread, cut into 1/2″ cubes
5 oz Emmenthal cheese (cheddar or Gruyere is good too)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup snipped fresh chives
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup spinach, uncooked
1/2 cup sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp pepper

Directions
1. Sautee the spinach a couple minutes until it is well cooked. Then sautee the mushrooms until browned (about 5 minutes). Set both aside to let cool.
2. Using a sharp knife, cut a cap out of the top of the pumpkin (think Halloween jack-o-lantern). You want to cut off enough of the top to make it easy for you to work inside the pumpkin — about 3 or so inches in diameter. Save the cap.
3. Scoop out the guts of the pumpkin — save the pumpkin seeds to roast later.
4. Season the inside of the pumpkin with 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper.
5. In a large bowl, mix the bread, cheese, garlic, chives, remaining pepper, spinach and mushrooms together in a large bowl. Pour a little more than 1/3 cup cream over the mixture and combine until the bread is moistened.
6. Transfer the bread mixture into the pumpkin. Pour extra cream over the mixture in the pumpkin. Place the cap back on the pumpkin, loosely covering the stuffing.
7. Bake at 350 F for 1.5 to 2 hours. To test doneness, a knife poked in to the side of the pumpkin should easily go through to the center of the pumpkin.
8. Carefully transfer the pumpkin to a plate (I had to use two spatulas). To serve, remove the cap and slice the pumpkin into wedges.

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