At this year's pumpkin party, I got to make the big stuffed pumpkin dish that has become a staple at these annual pumpkin parties. For this distinct honor and distinguished occasion, I adapted a tasty-looking Quinoa-Stuffed Squash recipe from Cooking Light.
This is my favorite recipe I've made in a while, and I hope you like it as much as my fellow pumpkin party goers and I did!
Note, October 2016: I've been tinkering with this recipe every year and have decided it's time to incorporate those changes into this original recipe. Additions include celery, fresh sage, fresh rosemary, white wine, less quinoa, and a different kind of pumpkin.
Yield: 16 servings
Adapted from Cooking Light
1-1/2 to 2 cups dry quinoa (yields ~4-1/2 to 6 cups cooked)
1 pumpkin (mine was 13 lbs.)
2 lbs. ground turkey sausage
2 cups finely chopped carrot
2 cups finely chopped onion (I used yellow)
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
8 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup white wine (I used cheap chardonnay)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup fresh parsley
2-4 Tbsp. minced fresh sage
2-4 Tbsp. minced fresh rosemary
Generous 1/2 tsp. dried thyme (or 1/2 Tbsp. fresh)
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. pepper
Cayenne pepper, to taste
6 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (reduced fat, if available)
6 oz. pepper Jack cheese, shredded (reduced fat, if available)
Cook the quinoa according to package directions, but use a 1:1.5 (rather than 1:2) ratio of quinoa to water. This will result in less mushy quinoa. Also be sure to include a pinch of salt in the cooking water.
Cut the lid off the pumpkin, being sure to cut at an angle so that, when the pumpkin shrinks while it bakes, the lid will still stay on. Clean out the seeds and stringy parts and set the pumpkin aside.
Brown the turkey sausage; drain and remove sausage to another dish. Sauté carrot, onion, celery, and garlic in the skillet for a couple minutes over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Stir in 1/2 cup water and white wine; increase heat to high, and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and the veggies are tender but not mushy.
Preheat oven to 350 (and arrange racks to accommodate a tall pumpkin).
In a large bowl combine sausage, carrot mixture, cooked quinoa, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper, cayenne, and all but 1/4 to 1/2 cup of cheese. Taste--savor the moment!--and add more salt, pepper, or cayenne if needed. Taste some more, just for kicks.
Pour the quinoa mixture into prepared pumpkin, top with reserved cheese, and place the lid on the pumpkin. Put the pumpkin in a roaster pan or on a cookie sheet with sides.
Bake for about 2 hours, checking every 15 minutes once you reach the 1-1/2-hour mark.* You want the pumpkin flesh to be soft enough that you can scrape it out with a spoon when you dish up the quinoa filling, but not so soft that the pumpkin collapses.
Carefully remove from the oven (this was a two-person job for me and my co-hostesses). Transfer to a serving platter and, if desired, dress up the platter with some fresh parsley sprigs. Serve straight from the pumpkin, scraping out some pumpkin meat to go with each serving.
*Note: I've made this with basic jack-o-lantern pumpkins, as pictured here, but I like it better with Cinderella pumpkins, which are more flavorful and prettier. My first Cinderella pumpkin was extremely tender after just 1 hour in the oven, and my second one was still a little al dente after about 1-1/2 hours. So I recommend that you plan for 1-1/2 hours but check it after 45-60 minutes. The good news is that, if it cooks quickly and is done earlier than you need it, it does hold really well. Just take it out of the oven and keep the lid on, and it'll stay nice and hot.
This was phenomenal! Savory with the sausage, with a bit of kick from the cayenne and pepper Jack cheese, and delightfully autumnal and festive. The carrots were still a bit crisp which complemented the soft quinoa and chewy sausage. I don't say this very often with it comes to recipes, but I don't think I'll change a single thing next time I make this for a big group. When I make it for just myself I'll obviously scale it down and cook in a little pie pumpkin or some other squash that strikes my fancy. But as far as flavors, ingredients, and ratios, I think this was just right! (2016 me here. Well, those comments about not changing a thing are ironic.)
|A little peek inside before baking. |
Sorry about the blurriness of the iPhone photo.