JUST IN TIME FOR THANKSGIVING! If you are looking for a glorious edible centerpiece for your table or you just want to stuff something that isn’t a turkey, how about roasting your favorite stuffing (or mine) in a pumpkin? Pumpkins make a lovely serving dish and the rich and creamy pumpkin flesh gets scooped up along with the flavorful wild rice, mushrooms, pecans and vegan sausage stuffing. It’s a wonderful and savory dish, sure to satisfy both vegan and meat loving friends. This recipe makes a perfect Vegan main course or a hearty side dish for about ten people and is naturally gluten free.
I have always loved the colors of Fall and the view from my window shows why. (Notice that roses in the lower left corner are still blooming too.) The gorgeous orange of pumpkins is the essence of the season. As the pumpkin bakes it gains a gorgeous dark amber color. I bought a Tutti Frutti Sugar Pie Pumpkin just shy of 6 lbs. Who can resist a name like that? This is a dense, sweet smaller pumpkin that is great for cooking and less so for making jack ‘o lanterns. ‘The bright orange color of pumpkin is a dead giveaway that pumpkin is loaded with an important antioxidant, beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is one of the plant carotenoids converted to vitamin A in the body. In the conversion to vitamin A, beta carotene performs many important functions in overall health.'(University of Illinois Extension)
Have you heard about the Great Pumpkin Shortage of 2015? Apparently, it’s true. If you see pumpkins in your market, don’t wait until the last minute. Scoop them up or maybe try Farmer’s Markets. Pumpkins (and all winter squash) can stay quite happily on your counter for a week or two until you are ready to use them. ‘The sugar pumpkins are grown primarily in Illinois, which produces about 90% of the supply each year. But this year heavy rains hit Illinois and cut deeply into the sugar pumpkin crop.’ (CNN)
Historically, I have stayed away from Vegan ‘meats’ and ‘cheeses’ because I usually don’t like either the taste or the texture but I keep on trying. I am not Vegan but I do believe in using non-dairy products as often as possible, both to promote all the new products (and encourage more) and to boycott the dairy industry, in particular, the factory farming/ Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO’s) which are crueltry beyond belief. Click on How Our Food Animals Are Raised it if you don’t already know. The Vegan world is rapidly changing and there are some really good options out there now that are pretty good. There are several really good vegan sausages, Beyond Meat Italian Sausages are a favorite. I first made this using Field Roast Italian Sausages (made with eggplant, fennel garlic and red pepper) They also make some good vegan cheeses under the name of Chao. If you are gluten free, check the labels. Some are made with vital wheat gluten. I threw these same sausages on the grill a few weeks ago during a family barbecue and we were all pleasantly surprised. I thought that grilled they were a bit dry but with a great flavor and consistency. I decided that next time I would brush them in olive oil before grilling or saute them in a pan with oil. In this recipe I removed the casings and crumbled the ‘meat’ and sauteed it along with the onions and celery. Of course this step is optional as there are enough other good flavors and textures in this dish without it. See TIPS for some suggested substitutions. NOTE: This is not a paid endorsement, just my personal opinion.
The inspiration for this dish came from Vegetarian Times and I used their directions as a guide but created my own ingredients. If you are interested in the original recipe which is also Vegan and includes wild rice, beans, corn and spinach, click HERE.
TIPS: The stuffing can be made two days ahead of time and refrigerated unstuffed. Substitute any ingredients that you and your family really like. Some suggestions would be substituting chopped chestnuts instead of pecans, 1 1/2 cups of cooked cannelini, black or kidney beans instead of vegan sausage; 2 cups of fresh spinach instead of mushrooms. For a bit of sweetness add 1/4 – 1/2 cup dried cranberries, yellow raisins or black currants.
WILD RICE, MUSHROOM, PECAN & ‘SAUSAGE’ STUFFED PUMPKIN
Note: Amounts are listed fill a 6 lb pumpkin. An 8lb pumpkin will call for 2 cups wild rice blend. Adjust accordingly.
- Prepare wild rice blend according to package directions. Transfer to bowl and allow to cool.
- Heat 2 Tbs. oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion, celery,; sauté 5 minutes.
- Remove sausage from casings and crumble.
- Wipe mushrooms clean with a damp papertowel and chop. Add sausage and mushrooms, 4 cloves garlic, 1/2 of. sage and thyme to pan with onions and saute another 5 minutes or so until all liquid has evaporated.
- Toast pecans in a dry pan for several minutes until aromatic.
- Stir mushroom mixture into rice mixture. Fold in pecans. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if desired.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil. Cut top from pumpkin, and scoop out seeds and pulp. Reserve seeds for roasting if desired. See below for directions.
- Combine remaining oil, garlic, sage, and thyme in bowl. Brush oil mixture over inside of pumpkin.
- Fill pumpkin with rice mixture, cover with top, and bake 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until pumpkin is tender when side is pierced with knife tip.
- Uncover, and bake 10 to 20 minutes more.
ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS
- Remove the large pieces of pulp from the seeds. Don’t worry, the smaller shreds will disappear in the second step.
- Boil the seeds in really salty water for about 5 minutes. Drain and let dry.
- Spread seeds on a baking sheet. Spray or coat with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, cayenne or any other spices you like.
- Bake for 30 – 45 minutes at 300 degrees or until golden. Remove from heat and let cool. Store at room temperature for up to a week.
- Use as toppings for salads or soups if you have any left after you’ve been snacking on them.
Note: Amounts are listed fill a 6 lb pumpkin. An 8 lb pumpkin needs 2 cups uncooked rice. Adjust recipe accordingly. ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS
Wild Rice Mushroom Sausage Stuffed Pumpkin
Note: Amounts are listed fill a 6 lb pumpkin. An 8 lb pumpkin needs 2 cups uncooked rice. Adjust recipe accordingly.
ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS