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Author Notes: Wandering the supermarket last week I saw these tiny, grapefruit sized mini pumpkins and was instantly seized with the desire to stuff them full of something savory and delicious. These are not the tiny Cinderella pumpkins, but rather tiny cheese (possibly carving but with way more flavor) pumpkins. If you can't find these little guys, a small cheese or sugar pumpkin would work too. If you leave out the bacon these are also vegan.
I think they are filling enough for a lighter main, paired with a yummy salad or gently steamed veggies. But if you wanted something more substantial you could serve these as a show stopping side dish next to your favorite roast beast. —fatgirleating
- 5 mini pumpkins 3-4 inches in diameter
- 1 cup rice of your choice
- 2 pieces thick cut bacon
- 1 onion, chopped small
- 2 pieces garlic, minced
- 4-6 brown mushrooms, corsely chopped
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/2 teaspoon mashed squash, i had butternut on hand but canned pumpkin would work too
- 1/2 cup pepitas, raw or at least unsalted
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1-2 sprigs sage, use more if you like sage flavor
- 1 sprig rosemary chopped fine
- 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
- preheat oven to 325 degrees F
- cook your rice in a rice cooker, or on the stove top
- cut the tops off the pumpkins about 1/3 of the way down the pumpkins, and scoop out the seeds. you want them to resemble little bowls or cups and for the stuffing to have a generous and easy to fill cavity. sprinkle the inside with a little salt and pepper.
- lay the bacon strips on top of each other and cut vertically into thin strips (aka lardons) and cook them over medium heat until the fat renders out and they get crispy.
- remove the bacon to drain and pour off about half the bacon fat. you want 2-3 tbs left in your skillet.
- add the onion and the mushrooms and cook until the onion is soft and the mushrooms have released their liquid. 5 or so minutes. add the garlic and cook a few more minutes until fragrant and soft.
- deglaze the pan with the white wine and let it reduce by half.
- put the cooked rice into a large mixing bowl. add the bacon, onion/garlic/mushroom/wine mixture, squash, herbs and salt and pepper to taste. then add the pepitas and dried cranberries and mix well.
- make sure you're happy with the amount of herbs, nuts and fruit in your stuffing and add more to taste if needed.
- stuff the rice mixture into the hollow pumpkins, mounding it a little. you want to make sure you don't pack the stuffing too tight as you'll damage the rice and it will get mushy.
- put the filled pumpkins into a shallow baking dish (i used a 9x9 but whatever they fit into is fine) and fill with enough water to come about an inch up the sides. bake covered for an hour until the flesh is tender. the skins will stay hard and keep their shape so test the inside edge of the squash, not the skin.
- remove cover and crank heat up to 400 degrees F, and roast until the tops get brown and crunchy. about 10 min.
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