Stuffed Pumpkin – A Vegan Thanksgiving Centerpiece

Stuffed pumpkin is a head-turning treat to grace any vegan Thanksgiving table, and we can truly be thankful because no animal suffered or died for us to have this meal. Since preparation and cooking time overlap, we suggest allowing about 3 hours to prepare this meal. Most often people throw away the uncarved pumpkins they had left over from Halloween, but we have a much better suggestion. Eat them! Here is just one of our ideas for enjoying them for any festive meal.

Stuffed Pumpkin - 08

Stuffed Pumpkin – 08

Stuffed Pumpkin Ingredients:

Stuffed Pumpkin Cooking Utensils:

Stuffed Pumpkin Preparation:

Stuffed Pumpkin - 01

Stuffed Pumpkin – 01

The best way to begin this recipe is to plan ahead by selecting a pumpkin that will fit into your roasting pan.  We suggest buying a pumpkin that allows 1/2 inch of space between the edge of the pumpkin and the side of the roasting pan, in order to prevent burning.  The pumpkin can also be roasted in a disposable aluminum pan, but because of the weight, we suggest placing the pan on a pizza stone or terra cotta baking pan to help support the pan.  Thoroughly wash the pumpkin to make sure that all dirt has been removed, and set on the countertop, a plate, or a cutting board.
Stuffed Pumpkin - 02

Stuffed Pumpkin – 02

Test the height of the pumpkin to make sure that the stem does not stick up higher than your oven can accommodate.  If too high, trim it a little, but leave a portion of the stem to use as a handle for the lid.  Using a sharp knife held at a sixty degree angle, carefully cut out the top of the pumpkin, making a lid that is between 4 and 5 inches across.  The angled cut prevents the lid from falling into the pumpkin.
Stuffed Pumpkin - 03

Stuffed Pumpkin – 03

Next, scrape out the seeds and “strings” with a stiff metal spoon, being careful not to cut into the pulp of the pumpkin.  Save the seeds for roasting; they’re great!
Stuffed Pumpkin - 04

Stuffed Pumpkin – 04

Place the lid back on the unstuffed pumpkin and place in a preheated 350 degree oven.  To prevent the pumpkin from sticking to the bottom of the roasting pan, we suggest placing a piece of doubled aluminum foil, slightly larger than the base of the pumpkin, below the pumpkin. While the pumpkin is cooking, make the Greek Style Vegetable Rice Stuffing (Quick Method) or whatever stuffing you desire.  We suggest making more stuffing than you anticipate will be needed to fill the pumpkin.
Stuffed Pumpkin - 05

Stuffed Pumpkin – 05

Check the pumpkin shell to make sure that it is baking evenly.  If the top is over- cooking, you might want to cover the pumpkin with some aluminum foil.  When the stuffing is done, remove the pumpkin from the oven.
Stuffed Pumpkin - 06

Stuffed Pumpkin – 06

Remove the foil covering and the lid of the pumpkin and spoon the hot stuffing into the pumpkin, working the stuffing into the sides of the pumpkin.  When the pumpkin is full, place the lid and the cover back on the pumpkin and return it to the oven.
Stuffed Pumpkin - 07

Stuffed Pumpkin – 07

It generally takes a couple of hours to roast a pumpkin.  We suggest checking it at the end of one hour to see if the exterior of the pumpkin is beginning to soften.  Do not let it get mushy.  When the outside begins to soften, remove the aluminum foil cover in order to allow the pumpkin to acquire its deep, rich color.  When the pumpkin softens, remove the baking pan from the oven.
Stuffed Pumpkin - 09

Stuffed Pumpkin – 09

To place the pumpkin on a serving plate usually requires two people.  Place the serving platter next to the baking pan.  We suggest the stronger of the two people slide two spatulas, in opposite directions, under the aluminum foil pad beneath the pumpkin.  The second person, using a pair of oven mitts, assists in lifting and steadying the pumpkin as it is transferred from the baking pan to the serving platter.  If you used a disposable aluminum baking pan, the side of the pan can be sliced away and you can slide the pumpkin onto the serving platter; or the entire sides of the baking pan can be cut away and the pumpkin with the aluminum pan bottom can be transferred to the serving platter.  Garnish as desired with extra stuffing and parsley sprigs.  Also shown in this photo are a tossed salad, autumn chowder, cranberry-orange relish, toasted pumpkin seeds, and oatmeal spice cookies.
Stuffed Pumpkin - 08

Stuffed Pumpkin – 08

To serve the pumpkin and stuffing, we suggest using a large metal serving spoon.  Scoop out some stuffing and place on the plate.  Then scoop some of the pumpkin pulp from the pumpkin sides, being careful not to cut through the rind, and place on top of the stuffing.  Add some cranberry orange relish.  Serve and enjoy!

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