Monday, October 17, 2011

Stuffed Mini Pumpkins: the cutest thing you can put in your mouth without being creepy

A few years ago, my good friend Laurel (seen here buttering corn) informed me that those tiny pumpkins found on every reception desk in the country during the fall are actually edible.  I'm not sure how I missed this, considering my ferocious appetite for everything pumpkin.  Now every year when I pick up my carving pumpkins, I pick up a load of these little guys... saving them from a life of cubicle mediocrity as a paperweight, but dooming them to my belly.

I've put a few stuffings in these pumpkins... but I think I really nailed it this year. Rice, ground turkey, hazelnuts and raisins.  Perfect.  It's a very well rounded flavor. Please excuse me while I puff up my chest and walk through the halls of food perfection.

Stuffed Mini Pumpkins

6 small mini pumpkins or 4 large mini pumpkins (Not Jack B Little. Those will be too bitter.  You're looking for the ones next to the gourds.  Yup. Edible. Who knew?)
1 pound ground turkey
1/4 cup raisins
1 cup hazelnuts
1 cup uncooked rice or grain of your choice. I used long grain white because I had it haging around. This would be lovely with wild rice, for example.
1 tablespoon dried Thyme
2 cloves minced garlic
1 medium chopped onion
1 teaspoon honey
1 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon butter
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Cut the tops off of your mini pumpkins and take all the pumpkin goop out with a spoon, making sure to scrape the sides of the pumpkin well.  Set your pumpkins and lids (stems down) in a baking dish and set aside.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Saute the onion and garlic in about a tablespoon of olive oil on medium high heat until the onion is tender, about 6 minutes. Add the ground turkey and brown.

Add the raisins, hazelnuts, thyme, honey, tomato paste, pepper flakes and chicken broth.  Simmer on medium heat until the sauce reduces by half, then add the butter.  Check for seasoning at this point.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer for 5 more minutes.

Drizzle the mini pumpkins and lids with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Stuff each pumpkin with the mixture.  If your stuffing is dry, add about a tablespoon of water to each one so that the flesh of the pumpkin will bake.

Place your stuffed pumpkins in a preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until the stuffing is golden brown and the pumpkin flesh is tender

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