If you are still looking at those left over pumpkins from haloween, you may want to take a trip back in time and use a pumpkin as a baking vessel. Long before iron pots held stews, dinners were packed into pumpkins and baked in a fire.
You don’t need to go slay a deer and gather wood for this tasty dish, tho…. you just need to expand your expectations of the use of a pumpkin beyond sweet pies and breads.
Pumpkin is a squash. You can use it the same way you use acorn, butternut and other winter squash. Baked with a little butter it is a great side dish veggie.
A little side trivia… fed raw to horses, goats and other farm animals, pumpkin works to rid intestinal parasites.
Pumpkin Casserole is a favorite in our family… cheesy creamy comfort food baked in the pumpkin makes a beautiful presentation and conversation piece!
Our eldest daughter uses this pumpkin cassarole as the centerpiece of a pumpkin-themed bring-a-dish dinners with friends.
Pick a ripe, firm pumpkin. Wash its exterior. Cut its top off and scrape out the seeds and strings. Keep and clean the top – you will use it as the lid.
Create your cassarole mix. This is where you can get creative. Giving you specific measurements does not work – no 2 pumpkins hold the same amount. I generally make the casserole mix and freeze any extra for future use.
The basic casserole ingredients are: rice, shredded cheese, cooked chicken, cream of chicken soup, chopped onions and green peppers. You may wish to add broccoli florets, mushroms, or any other ingredients that you favor. You may want to use cream of mushroom soup instead of chicken.
The basic proprtions are 2/3 rice & 1/3 chicken. If you add veggies, use 1/3 rice, 1/3 chicken, 1/3 veggies.
Cook the rice al dente. It will cook some more in the oven.
Cut up and fry the chicken or boil it and shred it.
Cook the onions and bell peppers in a bit of butter till tender. You need to add the amount that fits your taste.
Get a mixing bowl approximately the size of the pumpkin cavity. Thoroughly mix the al dente rice, chicken, shredded cheese (quantity to your taste) and veggies. Pour the mix into the pumpkin cavity. Mix the soup according to packages directions (do not heat it) and pour into the pumpkin, put the top on the pumpkin and place it in a baking dish. I usually cover the whole thing with tin foil to hold in juices and steam. You may need to add wads of tinfoil to the baking pan to support the pumpkin.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes. The casserole is done when the pumpkin flesh is tender. I tend to like to cook it till the pumpkin is nearly overcooked and really tender.
Serve by scooping out some pumpkin flesh with the casserole.
Some savory modifications: instead of chicken, use ground beef, left over roast beef, ground pork or pork sausage. Some friends recently suggested trying it with left over turkey, dressing & gravy. Your best results will come from your experiments!!