Friday, September 26, 2008

Pumpkin outside the pie -- and can

Two years ago I roasted a pie pumpkin for the first time. This year I made one of the recipes again. It is aptly called "Dinner in a pumpkin" because you bake all the elements of the meal inside the gourd. The filling is similar to that of stuffed peppers. You can serve right from the pumpkin and it makes a lovely presentation as the shell turns a lovely dark burnt sienna color.

When picking your pumpkin, steer clear of the big kind you carve jack-o'-lanterns from. You want smaller pie pumpkins from the produce section. If your pumpkin won't hold all the filling, bake it separately in a covered casserole dish. You can halve the ingredients listed here for 1 small pumpkin or bake it in two.

Save the pumpkin seeds to roast and snack on ... a recipe for that follows and includes variations.

1 medium sugar (or pie) pumpkin
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 cups tomato juice
3 cups shredded cabbage
1/2 pound fresh green beans, washed and trimmed
1 cup uncooked brown rice

Prepare the brown rice according to package directions before you mix it into the filling. If you don't, it will be crunchy.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Wash pumpkin, cut off top, scrape out seeds (and save for making roasted pumpkin seeds).

Place hamburger in a large, deep skillet. Crumble and cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain fat, add onion and garlic; saute slightly.

Add sugar, Italian herbs, salt, pepper, tomato juice and rice; mix thoroughly.

Layer inside of pumpkin with 1/3 cabbage, green beans and beef and rice mixture. Repeat layers, replace lid and bake for 2-3 hours.

Adapted from Taste of Home's Simple & Delicious magazine Sept./Oct. 2008
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
2 cups fresh pumpkin seeds, washed of pulp and patted dry

In a small bowl, combine the oil, celery salt, garlic powder and seasoned salt. Add pumpkin seeds; toss to coat.

Spread all of the seeds in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes, stirring every 8. Spread on a paper towel to cool.

VARIATION: Roast pumpkin seeds by rinsing them of pulp, patting them dry and spreading in a single layer on the baking sheet.
Then shake hot seeds in a covered bowl with one of the following combinations:
salt, cumin and chili powder
OR salt, turbinado sugar, pumpkin pie spice

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