My mother is quite the vegetable grower, and alongside all the kale, rhubarb and tomatoes that I keep pilfering from her garden, she recently gave me a teeny tiny pumpkin. I initially wasn’t quite sure what to do with it (boil it? Mash it? Stick it in a stew? Hang on, wrong vegetable), it was such a pretty wee thing that chopping it up as a component in a dish seemed like it would be an insult. But then I thought “well, if you can stuff a big pumpkin then you can also stuff a mini one,” did some research, smushed a bunch of different recipes together and devised the perfect stuffed mini pumpkin for one. The best thing is that it’s that kind of recipe I love, the ‘shove in whatever you have handy’ kind, so you can mix up the ingredients list depending on what you have in your pantry.
- 1 tiny pumpkin
- 1/2 wholemeal English muffin (or whatever fresh breadcrumb is handy for you)
- 1/4 small green capsicum
- 1/3 small zucchini
- 4-5 mushrooms (any kind – I used shiitake)
- grated cheese, to taste (whatever you have – I used a mix of cheddar and parmesan)
- thickened cream
- 1 sprig of fresh thyme
- 4 fresh sage leaves (obvs. if you don’t have fresh herbs on hand use the dried equivalent)
1. Preheat oven to 220C. Line a tray with baking paper.
2. Take your wee pumpkin and cut a circular lid into the top around the stem (be careful! Use a sharp knife, as pumpkin skin is quite tough, and be slow and deliberate about it). Get a spoon and scoop out all the seeds and slimy membraney insides. Put the now disemboweled pumpkin on your baking tray, lid off.
3. Chop up the mushrooms, zucchini and capsicum into tiny little diced pieces. Crumble up the half of the English muffin into course breadcrumbs, and put in a bowl with the diced vegetables. Chop up the herbs, add to the bowl. Grate your cheeses, when you feel you have enough, add to the bowl (warning: what you think will be enough cheese will never enough; add some more. Yes, even more). Mix together all the things in the bowl so they’re nicely combined. You have stuffing now!
4. Take your bowl of stuffing and fill the cavity of the pumpkin. Pack it in there. Once it’s filled to about an inch or two from the top, pour over the cream. It should sink throughout the the stuffing, but if you want to give it a hand in mixing it through a little, do so. Don’t overfill, as you need to make sure you can put the pumpkin’s lid back on for baking. Crack some black pepper and salt over the filling, for good measure.
5. Pop the lid back on the pumpkin, and put it in the oven. Cook for 1 hour – 1 hour 20 minutes until you can pierce the pumpkin with a wooden skewer and it goes through easily and cleanly.
And there you go, you made a tiny delicious pumpkin! Get a fork, get a glass of wine, pop the lid off and get a whiff of the lovely pumpkiny smell. Pull away the soft orange flesh from the walls of the pumpkin and mix it through the creamy vegetables, and feel the contentment start to sing through your bones. You’ve done good.