It's October so I hung the decorative witch in the front window and the scarecrow figure on the porch. I would buy Halloween candy but it would be all eaten up before the trick-or-treaters every got near here. I can't trust myself with Halloween candy before around October 28.
I did buy a pumpkin, though -- an edible one. I think it was labeled "pie pumpkin." My inspiration for what to do with it came from food writer/blogger Dorie Greenspan's post: Pumpkin, Packed with Bread and Cheese: A Recipe in Progress.
The original recipe used a cheese, garlic, and cream filling for the pumpkin. The recipe starts just as if you were making a jack-o-lantern, but without cutting the eyes, nose, and mouth. Neat idea, isn't it? Greenspan's description and the many comments on her blog suggested quite a few variations, including the use of something closer to stuffing for a turkey. That sounded really good to me, so that's what I did.
First I cut the lid around the stem, just like a jack-o-lantern lid. Then I cleaned out the seeds and stringy stuff, and washed the pumpkin. I put it upside down to dry for a while. It had a very beautiful stem, but I had to trim it off so that jack would fit in the oven, as well.
For the stuffing, I cooked a chopped onion, some celery, rubbed sage, and oregano in butter for a while. Then I added some cubed bread. It was kind of dry bread: I picked out the odds and ends of french and other loaves that were sort of orphaned in the freezer. This was especially gratifying, since they were still quite good, but probably would have eventually gone to waste. I used around 4 slices of bread. (For turkey stuffing I often add something sweet like apple or raisins, but pumpkin is already sweet.)
I layered the stuffing into the pumpkin, layering the bread with two slices of pepper jack cheese. Jack cheese is aptly named for the dish, and the pepper gave the result a bit of a zing.
Then I mixed up some skim milk with an egg, and poured it into the pumpkin, sticking the knife down into the mixture to get it to soak the filling inside.
I put the lid back on, and put it in a baking dish. I followed the original suggestion, and baked it at 350 degrees for a little over 2 hours -- til very soft. The photo inside the oven makes it look pretty spooky!
I cut it in wedges to serve it. The egg in the filling made it easy to cut.
Delicious! It would be a good side dish for Thanksgiving, and especially good if any guests were non-meat-eaters. That just leaves the little logistical question of space in the oven.
While the pumpkin baked, I also baked the cleaned-off pumpkin seeds with a little oil and salt. That's a treat. I often do that with the seeds from the jack-o-lantern too. It doesn't seem to matter if it's a pie pumpkin or a carving pumpkin for that.