by Francesca Patterson
It’s a new week, Fall is chugging along, and the weather is cooling down just beautifully to match the upcoming festivities. A new week means a new kind of pumpkin to delve into… literally. I have become quite adept at cutting and gutting all kinds of pumpkins in the past few weeks, and I am now ready to take on the largest and the bumpiest of gourds.
This week, the inspiration for my recipe came from customers that are regulars at the Norman’s stand where I work (on Green Tree & Old Georgetown). They told me about their fantastic plans to carve the top off their large pumpkins and stuff them with all sorts of things like cheese, meats, and veggies. Being technically a one-pot meal (more like one-pumpkin), and a combination of warm seasonal flavors, this is exactly up my alley. I have been craving and looking forward to preparing this for myself all week.
After looking into the pumpkins I hadn’t yet explored, I decided on using a variety called Cinderella for this endeavor. These pumpkins are a French Heirloom, more formally called Rouge Vif D’Etampe. They are known for being flat pumpkins that are bright red and sometimes speckled with dark green. They are great for decorating as they stack very well with others. I have had one sitting on my doorstep for the past three weeks now, and tonight I decided it was time to clean it off and try it out.
The Cinderella has a vibrant yellow flesh inside and has a reputation for becoming extremely creamy and taking on a bright flavor when cooked.
This simple, hearty, and visually pleasing dinner is exactly what you need to ring in the fall weather. Once the pumpkin is cooked and the filling is added, you are able to scrape the pumpkin meat into the serving of rice and meat. This really is a fun meal to make and eat and is a great way to get a balanced dinner on one plate. It’s also a recipe that can be tweaked to include whatever your favorites are, whether it be without meat or just completely different spices and herbs.
- 1 medium pumpkin, anywhere between 5-10 lbs (I used a Cinderella pumpkin)
- 1 lb of ground beef (or whatever meat you prefer)
- 1/2 yellow onion (diced)
- 3 cups of rice (cooked, I used wild rice)
- 1 or 2 garlic cloves (minced)
- 3 leaves of Tuscan kale (stem removed, chopped into thin ribbons)
- 1/4 cup baby portabella mushrooms (finely chopped)
- olive oil
- salt and pepper (to taste)
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Being careful, cut just the top off of your pumpkin. Cut a circle around the top that is about 5 inches wide from the stem. Clean out the seeds and guts. Rub the pumpkin lightly in olive oil and sprinkle salt. Bake this on a baking sheet for about 45 minutes or until the insides become tender but it retains its shape.
In a medium pot, cook your rice and set aside.
In a large pan, saute the onions, garlic, and mushrooms for a few minutes. Add in your beef and kale. Cook until the beef is just cooked through. Mix in 2-3 cups of cooked rice.
Spoon the rice and beef mixture into your pumpkin until it reaches the brim. Serve warm.Makes about 6-8 servings. To save leftovers, scrape out the filling & pumpkin meat and put this in an airtight container for up to 4 days.