Sunday, January 23, 2011

“Sausage” and Rice-Stuffed Pumpkin

I am freezing. We have had a few horrible days of frigid weather, lows near 0 and highs not out of the teens. When I came downstairs to make breakfast this morning, the kitchen was at 51 degrees. The radiators are cranking out heat, but it seems way colder than the 64F to which the thermostat is set. My nose is cold. We have to reheat our meals in the microwave when we’re halfway through eating. And it’s only January… *sigh*

This makes me question our desire to retire to the north coast of Massachusetts. Shouldn't old folks go south???

No wonder that I still have the Christmas tree up. Its lights sparkle in the corner during these long, cold evenings and it makes me happy. I suppose that I will make motions to start taking it down later this week sometime, and I plan to have it totally disassembled by February 1st, but I’m only doing it grudgingly.

No surprise, then, that our dinners lately have been cooked in the oven; baked stuffed pumpkin, oven-“fried” chicken, meatloaf, pizza, etc. Anything for a little extra heat.

My pumpkin crop of 2010 was a very good one, and I still have about 16 smallish pumpkins in the basement. Since eating a pumpkin once a week would take us several weeks, I decided to get on finding and trying out some recipes that feature fresh pumpkin. I love pumpkin, but once spring arrives (oh, please make it soon!) I would like to be focusing on other, more seasonal veggies.

The idea for this dish originated from a Dorie Greenspan recipe but I made several changes and will now claim it as my own.

The pumpkin was cut, de-seeded, and the stringy stuff scraped out (as though I was preparing to make a jack o’ lantern) then filled with a mixture of brown basmati rice, “sausage”, shallot, spinach, and cheese and baked. What an absolutely delicious meal this was, hearty and warming on a cold winter evening.

I have “sausage” in quotes above because I used Morningstar Farms Sausage-style recipe crumbles. I know I have mentioned them in earlier posts, and we are in love with them. Really. I use these in soups, on pizza, in any recipe that I would use crumbled Italian sausage, and with 1/6 of the fat of the “regular” Italian sausage I can use as much as I want. Sub regular, browned and drained Italian sausage if you so desire.

I’m going to experiment with this recipe next time and add chopped mushrooms and/or finely chopped red bell pepper (sautéed with the shallots), and I think that sprinkling each serving with chopped, toasted walnuts would be great.

It was, all said, an easy recipe and I am very glad that I have more pumpkins to try some variations with.

* Exported from MasterCook *

“Sausage” and Rice-Stuffed Pumpkin

Recipe By: Vicci

Servings: 2

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

-------- ------------ --------------------------------

2 1/2 pounds pumpkin -- (small cooking pumpkin)

2/3 cup brown rice -- cooked without salt or fat (I used brown basmati)

1/4 cup chopped shallot

3 ounces baby spinach leaves

1 cup Morningstar Farms Sausage-Style Recipe Crumbles

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon dried sage

2 ounces Jarlsberg cheese -- shredded

1/3 cup low-sodium vegetable stock

2 tablespoons skim milk


Cook the rice and cool slightly.

Cut the top off of the pumpkin, like you are making a jack 'o lantern. Keep the knife at a 45-degree angle so the "lid" will stay on top during cooking and not fall onto the filling. Remove the seeds and scrape the inside with a spoon to get rid of the stringy stuff. Season with ground pepper and set on a baking sheet that has been covered with foil and sprayed with cooking oil spray.

Preheat the oven to 350F

Over low heat, sauté the shallot in a large nonstick skillet (add some olive oil to prevent sticking, if necessary. When the shallot softens (about 2 minutes) add garlic and continue to sauté for 30 seconds. Add the spinach and stir until it is wilted. Add seasonings, cooked rice, sausage crumbles and mix. Stir in vegetable broth then cheese.

Spoon the rice mixture into the pumpkin to about 1/2" below the top (this filled a 2-2/1 pound pumpkin nicely). Pour the milk over top, cover with the pumpkin "lid" and place in the oven.

Bake for 40 minutes and remove the cap. Continue to bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the pumpkin, when pierced with a toothpick, is soft. Remove from oven and allow to sit on the sheet for 5 minutes (if there is liquid on top of the pumpkin filling, use a small spoon and mix it in the top layer a bit).

Slice the pumpkin into wedges and serve from the baking sheet, or use 2 heavy, large spatulas to transfer the cooked pumpkin carefully to a waiting cutting board or serving platter.

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Per serving: 704 Calories (kcal); 16g Total Fat (5g saturated); (19% calories from fat); 44g Protein; 102g Carbohydrate; 26mg Cholesterol; 1354mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 5 1/2 Grain(Starch); 1 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

Isn't this pretty? And delicious, too!

I will definitely add some red bell pepper next time for color, and perhaps up the quantity of spinach as bit as well. I can't wait to make this again (and keep the oven on for a bit of heat as well!).