Stuffed Mini Pumpkins

Pile of Pumpkins!Autumn is one of the great seasons; watching the color of the leaves turn, the brisk crisp coolness in the air and the emergence of pumpkins and squash in the market.

These various squash found their way into my basket while shopping this weekend.

These various squash found their way into my basket while shopping this weekend.

Today I saw these mini pumpkins and some white pie pumpkins, so I filled my basket.

This stuffed mini pumpkin makes a great little side dish. The best part is you can fill it with a variety of things, from soup to salad or use it to hold grains or a mix of things like I did here.

When using a variety of things inside the pumpkin, remember to cut them small so you can get a bit of everything in one bite.

I think these would make a really pretty side dish on  Thanksgiving table or buffet.

To present them on a platter, think ‘patch patch’ and decorate around the pumpkins with salad greens or Brussels sprouts.

Serve stuffed mini pumpkins on a platter, think "Pumpkin Patch"

Serve stuffed mini pumpkins on a platter, think “Pumpkin Patch”

To prepare the pumpkins, cut the tops off using a sharp knife. Then gently scoop out the insides and discard.

Season the pumpkins inside with salt and pepper and a small bit of fresh butter.

Steam the pumpkins until the inside flesh is tender. Test by using a fork or tip of a paring knife.

Do not poke through the shell to test doneness, that would cause the pumpkin to leak any liquids you put inside.

Once the flesh is done, place the pumpkins upside down on a clean towel and allow them to drain for a few minutes.

Carefully fill each pumpkin with the filling. If serving warm, cover each pumpkin with tin foil and put it in an oven set at 400°F for 30 minutes or until the contents are warm.

If serving the pumpkins cool or at room temperature, chill before filling.

The filling used for these pumpkins is a filling that reflects the changes of the season. Stuffed Pumpkin

Pumpkins Stuffed Roasted Beet, Sweet Potato, Dried Cranberries with Toasted Pecans and Feta Cheese

  • 1 medium-sized beet, roasted, cut into very small cubes
  • 1 medium sweet potato, roasted, cut into very small cubes
  • 1/4 cup toasted pecan pieces
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese

Keeping the vegetables separate as you cut them, roast them for about 10 minutes in a 350°F oven or until each cube is done through.

Chop the toasted nuts and dried cranberries then combine them in a bowl, add the beets and potatoes as they finish roasting. Mix together and sprinkle in the feta cheese. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. A touch in cinnamon or ginger is a very nice addition and fragrant too.

Either cool the mixture to serve cold or warm the mixture then stuff the pumpkins. Cover with the pumpkin “lid”, wrap in foil and warm in the oven.

Use spatulas to lift the cooked pumpkins because the skin gets delicate and tears easily.

Honey Peppercorn Vinaigrette

Honey Peppercorn Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon ground mixed peppercorns, use pink, white, dried green, black and Szechuan peppercorns for maximum interest
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 Tablespoon shallot, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup good quality vegetable oil

Combine all ingredients except the oil in a large bowl, whisk together. Add the oil and whisk to combine. Adjust seasonings, stir or shake just before serving.

Top the stuffed pumpkins with a bit of Honey Peppercorn Vinaigrette just before serving and add a bit to the stuffing for added moisture.

I hope you try making these stuffed mini pumpkins this season. Personally I love squashes of all kinds and look forward to  this time of year.

Happy Fall!

Plated stuffed mini pumpkin

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The Grill Is On! Grilled Vegetable Salad

This weekend turn the grill on and have some tasty treats. Aside from the typical dogs and burgers, I am going to suggest a grilled vegetable salad perfect for a weekend.

  • Zucchini
  • Yellow Squash
  • Eggplant – sliced and sprinkled with salt. Allow to sit and drain for 10-15 minutes. Rinse and marinade.
  • Red Peppers
  • Asparagus
  • Onions
  • Portobello Mushrooms
  • Grape  or cherry tomatoes

Slice all the vegetables; keep them separate in zip lock bags.

Add enough vinaigrette of your choice (my suggested recipe follows) to coat each slice evenly. They do not have to swim in the marinade.

Each vegetable has different cooking times so we want to place each kind of veg on the grill at the same time. This will help prevent you going bonkers while grilling if they were all mixed up.

Grill the vegetables, like items together.

Grill about 5 minutes or until each slice has a nice grill mark.

Remove from the grill and place into a large bowl. If the veg needs to be sliced after grilling, set those aside so you can cut them before combining the vegetables.

Portobello, red peppers and eggplant  and asparagus will need to be cut into bite sized pieces after grilling.

Saute tomatoes; they are too small to grill

Cherry tomatoes are too small to grill so give them a quick saute in a hot saute pan with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Blister them and they are good to go.

Toss all the grilled vegetables in a large bowl. Add additional dressing if necessary.

Garnish with fresh basil leaves.

This salad can be served either warm or cold or room temperature.

Just don’t let it sit out longer than 4 hours.

 Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • * 1 clove garlic, minced fine
  • 1 shallot or sweet onion, minced fine
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar of good quality, can be white or dark
  • 2/3-cup olive oil
  • 1/3-cup vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients except oils. Slowly add oils while whisking to emulsify.

The dressing will separate and will need a whisk or two before serving.

If you blend the oil in with a food processor or blender, the dressing will be more stable and will not separate.

*Garlic is optional. Dried minced garlic is alright to use as long as you give it time to re-hydrate