mini stuffed pumpkins

From Chef Andrew Cain and Registered Dietitian Susan Juechter of Phelps Hospital/ Northwell Health in Sleepy Hollow, NY. 

Ingredients:

– 1¼ cups uncooked wild rice
– 2½ cups water
– 8 mini pumpkins
– 2 Tbsp olive oil
– 1 lb. diced butternut squash
– 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
– 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
– 1 cup finely diced apples
– 3/4 cup dried cranberries
– 2 Tbsp fresh chopped sage
– 1 tspn ground black pepper

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

To cook the wild rice: Combine the wild rice and the water and bring to a simmer. Cover and continue to simmer over a low heat for 35 to 45 minutes or until the water is gone and the rice is tender and fluffy. If your rice is still hard at this point, add another ½ cup of water and continue to cook the rice covered over a low heat for another 15 to 20 minutes.

To cook the butternut squash: Arrange the diced butternut squash in a roasting pan and drizzle with a touch of extra virgin olive oil. Roast until it is cooked through, slightly caramelized and tender. Remove the pan from the oven and set aside.

While the rice and squash are cooking, carefully slice the tops off your mini pumpkins and scoop out the seeds, (reserve the seeds for roasting and then topping the dish if desired). Rub the exposed flesh of the pumpkins with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast the pumpkins and their tops in a roasting pan, covered with tin foil, for 15 to 20 minutes, or just until the pumpkins are tender.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the chopped onion. Sweat the onion in the olive oil until tender and translucent in color. Add the diced apple, and continue to cook for about two to three minutes, stirring often. Stir in the cooked rice, cooked squash, dried cranberries, and chopped sage. Continue to cook until the mixture is hot. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Arrange the pumpkins in a large baking casserole and stuff each pumpkin with the wild rice mixture.
Place the casserole in the oven and bake for 10 to 20 minutes or until the pumpkins are soft and the wild rice stuffing has heated through.

Note: These stuffed pumpkins can be prepared a few days in advance and stored in the fridge until ready to bake. Optional: Grated Fontina, Manchego or Parmesan cheese is a nice addition to the dish and can be sprinkled on top of the stuffed pumpkins just before baking.

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