Stuffed Cinderella Pumpkin

Stuffed Cinderella PumpkinOther
What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word Thanksgiving? If I had to guess, most people would say a turkey (followed very quickly by pie). It would make sense. Thanksgiving is the one holiday where everyone eats the same stuff…right?

Yes, turkey is what’s expected for your Thanksgiving feast. But, what if you don’t like turkey? I have a number of friends who are not fans of the majestic bird—either because of the flavor or the fact that it can dry out and feel like you’re eating sawdust. Plenty more can’t fit one in their oven. Most of those people choose to go with something different like a beautiful prime rib or a spiral cut ham. Either of these will please a crowd and screams of celebration.

That being said, presentation is everything. There is something about the drama of bringing a turkey or other roast to the table to carve that reminds you that this is not your typical Thursday dinner. I have thought about this a lot and I have always felt disappointment on behalf of vegetarians that they don’t always get to feel that excitement. Now, not being a vegetarian myself, I could be totally off the mark here. And, there are any number of ways to make an entrance with a vegetarian entrée. I would love to hear what those options might be.

In the meantime, I think this recipe for a Stuffed Cinderella Pumpkin would fit that bill and make a fantastic entrance while still having all the drama and ceremony of a traditional carving.

If you have seen the cover of the November issue of Food & Wine you know what I am talking about. This Greens and Cheese Stuffed Pumpkin is gorgeous and would even work well as a fantastic side if you use a smaller pumpkin….

Stuffed Cinderella Pumpkin
Adapted from Anna Theoktisto for Food and Wine Magazine
Yields 8 Servings

1 (5 to 6-pound) Cinderella pumpkin
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted, divided
3-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/2 cups finely chopped fennel
2 large shallots, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch lacinato kale (about 10 ounces), stemmed and chopped (about 4 packed cups)
1/4 cup heavy cream
6 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
1 bunch fresh dill, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 frozen phyllo pastry sheets, thawed

Arrange your oven racks to fit the pumpkin. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Prep your vegetables, and grate and crumble your cheese. Set aside.

Prepare your pumpkin to roast
Cut a 5-inch-wide hole in the top of the pumpkin, and scoop out the seeds from the cavity. Discard the top of the pumpkin and the seeds. Place your pumpkin, cut side up, on a large rimmed baking sheet. Brush the pumpkin (inside and out) with 3 tablespoons of melted butter, and sprinkle it with 1-1/2 teaspoons of salt. Cover it tightly with aluminum foil.

Roast the pumpkin
Roast the pumpkin in the preheated oven until the flesh is slightly tender when pierced with a knife (about 30 to 40 minutes). Remove it from the oven. Discard the foil, and carefully flip the pumpkin cut side down. Continue roasting at 400°F, uncovered, until flesh is very tender (about 30 to 40 minutes).

Prepare the vegetables
While the pumpkin roasts, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fennel, shallots, and garlic. Cook, stirring often until the aromatics are tender (about 6 to 8 minutes). Add the kale in 3 additions, stirring until each batch is wilted before adding the next (about 2 minutes). Remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool for 10 minutes.

Prepare the pumpkin to be filled
Flip the roasted pumpkin cut side up. Drizzle the pumpkin cavity with the cream, and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt. Using a fork or spoon, gently break up flesh inside the shell. Leave the walls about 1/2 inch thick to keep the pumpkin shape intact. Leave any loose pumpkin flesh inside the pumpkin and set it aside.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Allow the oven to drop to temperature (about 10 minutes).

Prepare the filling
Stir together the Gruyère, feta, and dill in a large bowl. Stir in the kale mixture, pepper, and the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt.

Stuff the pumpkin
Spoon the mixture into the pumpkin cavity combining it with the loose pumpkin flesh that is already inside. Mound the mixture in the center.

Prepare the phyllo
Gently crumple each phyllo sheet. Then arrange the crumpled sheets on top of the filling. Brush the phyllo sheets evenly with the remaining 1 tablespoon of melted butter.

Bake the pumpkin
Bake your pumpkin at 350°F until the phyllo is crispy and golden brown (about 20 to 25 minutes).


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