Pumpkin Fest

This is what grown-up pumpkin carving looks like:

I finally did it. I made spicy fall stew baked in a pumpkin. This recipe has haunted my last two Falls and 2010 was the year I tackled this monster head on. For two years, I have been intrigued by this recipe, but I have felt too inadequate of a cook to attempt it. I think the first hurdle was the tomatillos, which I tackled in August. The second hurdle was the pumpkin carving and stuffing. This isn’t too difficult a task; I’ve been carving pumpkins my whole life. However, when you’re working with a kitchen as small as mine, there are logistical considerations involved. Anyway I managed to get the pumpkin full of stew into the hot oven and back out again without incident. And that was the real success of the night, regardless of how the dish tasted.

And it was delicious!

The original recipe is from Vegetarian Times, and I have reposted it here, with a few modifications.

Spicy Fall Stew Baked in a Pumpkin


  • 1 medium onion, diced (1 cup)
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano
  • ½ lb. tomatillos, husked and quartered (1½ cups)
  • 1 15-oz. can hominy, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 1 3- to 4-lb. pumpkin, either sugar pie, cheese, red kuri, kabocha, or buttercup squash
  • 2 oz. grated sharp Cheddar cheese (½ cup packed)
  • 1 avocado, cut into thin slices


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat 1 Tbs. oil in pot over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Sauté 7 minutes, or until softened. Stir in chili powder, cumin, and oregano, and cook 3 minutes more, or until spices darken.

2. Add tomatillos, hominy, diced tomatoes, carrots, ı/2 cup water, and salt. Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, partially covered, 10 to 12 minutes, or until tomatillos are softened. Uncover, and cook 5 minutes more to thicken stew, if necessary.

3. Meanwhile, cut top of pumpkin around stem to make lid. Scoop out pumpkin seeds and strings. Rub inside of pumpkin with remaining 1 Tbs. oil, and sprinkle generously with salt. Sprinkle cheese in bottom of pumpkin.

4. Fill pumpkin with stew, then top with pumpkin lid. Place on parchment-covered baking sheet and bake 1ı/2 to 2 hours, or until pumpkin flesh is fork-tender. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes.

5. Scoop stew, including pumpkin, into bowls and serve hot, topped with fresh avocado.

I added the carrots and diced tomatoes to the original recipe. You could use plain diced tomatoes, but I used these for a little extra kick:

I served the stew with a fresh salad and cheese bread. I think it was a hit because we almost licked the pumpkin clean.

I told this cooking success story to one of my more domestically gifted coworkers. She nodded in approval and then stared me straight in the eyes and challenged, “what did you do with the guts?” She assumed I would say that I threw them away, which was fortunately not the case.

“The seeds are drying on my counter right now and I pureed the strings and pulp in my mini-prep. I’ll make roasted pumpkin seeds tonight and pumpkin muffins this weekend.”

Score one for the veggiemeister.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin Muffins (recipe from Cooking Light)

The seeds have already traveled 100 miles plus one trip up and one trip down a mountain. The muffins will only travel as far as my office, every morning this week, to be devoured at snack time. Isn’t grown-up pumpkin carving the best?

2 thoughts on “Pumpkin Fest

  1. Pumpkins, Persimmons, and Pomegranates. . . Oh My! | veg:ology

  2. Cranberry Apple Butter | veg:ology

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