Autumn Glory

Oh look. A whole pumpkin. (Karen may notice that it's sitting in the pie plate she gave me this summer).

This recipe is quite possibly my greatest achievement of the fall. I have never baked an entire pumpkin before. Now, this is not a difficult recipe, but damn…it looks quite impressive. The recipe is from the “Encyclopedia of Vegetables and Vegetarian Cooking,” which is nothing less than the best cookbook I have ever purchased. I believe it’s now out of print, which is a damned shame, but sometimes you can find decent priced used copies on Amazon.com. If you are vegetarian you need to own this cookbook. If you like vegetables or just want a really great cookbook that gives you a million ways to use them that you’ve never thought of, then you should also own this cookbook. I’m actually planning on purchasing this cookbook for a certain vegetarian friend of mine (who shall remain nameless at the moment in case this person happens to read this blog post) for Christmas this year. I did quite a few substitutions with this recipe. The recipe calls for mushrooms, but Jake doesn’t like mushrooms. However, we did have the largest zucchini on the entire planet that we got from the Farmer’s Market on the corner of Campbell Avenue and River Road a couple Sundays back, so I just used the entire thing (it was a bit bigger than the size of 2 zucchinis you usually see in the supermarkets). Also, we’ve switched to eating whole wheat pasta because it’s slightly better for us, and I couldn’t find whole wheat pasta shells when I went to the store so I bought rotini instead. I used ginger powder instead of fresh ginger. And fromage blanc was rather expensive, so I looked online and found out that I could substitute Greek yogurt and get the same result, so I did. But really, substitutions and all, this recipe was delish. I mean…it’s basically a really great pasta, including pumpkin chunks, stuffed into a baked pumpkin shell. It’s SO GOOD and so much easier than it looks. Trust me. Just read through the steps.

Autumn Glory
1 pumpkin, about 4 pounds
1 onion, sliced
1 inch cube fresh ginger (or the equivalent in ginger powder, which is what I used)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 zucchini, sliced
4 oz. sliced mushrooms
1 14oz. can tomatoes, chopped
1 cup pasta shells
2 cups veggie stock
salt and ground black pepper
1/4 cup fromage blanc
2 tablespoons fresh basil

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. Cut the top off the pumpkin with a large, sharp knife. Scoop out and discard the seeds.
3. Using a small sharp knife and a sturdy tablespoon, extract as much of the pumpkin flesh as possible. Then chop it into chunks.
4. Bake the pumpkin shell with its lid on for 45 minutes to an hour, until the inside begins to soften.
5. Meanwhile, make the filling. Gently fry the onion, ginger and pumpkin flesh in the olive oil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Add the zucchini and mushrooms and cook for another 3 minutes.
7. Then stir in the tomatoes, pasta and stock.
8. Season well, bring to a boil, then cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
9. Stir the fromage blanc and basil into the pasta and spoon the mixture into the pumpkin. If you can’t fit all the filling into the pumpkin shell then serve it on the side (or refill the pumpkin as you go).

Oh...wait...I'm sorry. That's actually a pumpkin stuffed with amazing goodness!

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