Happy All Hallows’ Eve! Chrystal and I love a good party, so you’d think we’d be wild Halloween fanatics every year. But, for some unknown reason, its appeal dwindles more and more for us as we get further into adulthood. It’s been ages since either of us have put on what one would consider a “real” costume, and you won’t find us out and about on Halloween night among all the festivities. We can show our spirit in other ways, though. For one, Halloween just isn’t complete without pumpkins. Instead of carving one into a Jack-o-lantern, though, take your pumpkin to new heights by using it as a serving dish.
Dinner in a Pumpkin is the perfect fall all-in-one meal. It’s simply a mushroom rice casserole that’s cooked, literally, in a pumpkin. When it’s done, you have a bubbling, savory casserole encased in soft strands of this season’s greatest commodity. As you eat the meal out of the pumpkin, be sure to scrape the sides with your fork, ensuing you get a mouthful of the sweet, nutty squash with every bite. For dessert, you should already have plenty of candy goods. Be safe and be full on this fun holiday.
- 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 large red onion, diced
- 1 lb ground beef
- 8oz baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
- 1 cup white rice
- 1 10oz can cream of mushroom soup
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh sage leaves, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves, chopped
- 2 medium sugar pie pumpkins
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoons cracked black pepper, or to taste
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat. Cook onion for 4 minutes, or just until they begin to swell and become translucent. Add meat and mushrooms, cooking the mixture until beef is completely brown and the liquid in the pot has fully reduced, about another 6 minutes. Stir in white rice.
- Whisk together soup and water until well combined. Add soup mixture to the beef and rice. Bring to a boil then cover the pot. Reduce heat to low and cook for 25 minutes, or until rice is fully cooked. Stir in cranberries and herbs and season with salt and pepper. Let cool for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, while the rice cooks, pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut a hole at the top of the pumpkins with a serrated knife. Remove all flesh, pulp, and seeds with a large metal serving spoon or pumpkin scraper. Brush olive oil, about 2 tablespoons, around the inside walls of each pumpkin. Then sprinkle the insides with additional salt and pepper.
- When rice is ready, spoon the rice mixture into each pumpkin, packing it in until each one is completely full. Replace stem top and place filled pumpkins on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 50 minutes, or until the inside of the pumpkin walls are soft. Garnish with additional chopped parsley. Serve immediately.