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RECIPE: Stuffed Pumpkin

I'm not sure if anyone else shares my unnatural affinity for pumpkins, but I can't get enough of them. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin spiced latte, and of course pumpkin pie....I'm all about the orange squash. I start getting excited about them in October, but I continue to bake with them all the way through the holidays.

I love this savory take on pumpkin, which is almost always featured in dessert dishes. I found this recipe on Dorie Greenspan's blog, and I've served it annually at my Halloween/birthday dinner party. The version that I do is fairly large, but this can easily be adapated for a weeknight meal for two. Besides the chopping and cooking time, it's really fairly easy. Try adding your own ingredients and see what happens! It's hard to go wrong with bread and cheese.

Finally, if you're making a large pumpkin like this, I'd really, REALLY recommend cooking it in an uncovered dutch oven. It gives the sides of the pumpkin some support, and it makes it much easier to take into and out of the oven. The one that we use is Le Cruset-style, and it works great. Any sturdy, oven-safe pot will do.

Stuffed Pumpkin
Serves 6-10, depending on portion size

1 pumpkin, about 10 inches in diameter. Make sure it fits into your oven!
16 oz. day-old bread, torn into1/2-inch chunks (I prefer sourdough)
12 oz. cheese, cut into small cubes, or coarsely shredded (I prefer swiss and smoked cheddar)
8 cloves garlic, minced (don't forget that I'm a garlic lover, so adjust accordingly)
1 granny smith apple, cut into small cubes
4 leaves kale, coarsely shredded
1/4 c. toasted almonds or pecans, chopped
approx 1/2 cup heavy cream or whole milk
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. salt 
1 t. sage

1. Prehead oven to 350 degrees. Adjust rack to fit pumpkin and dutch oven.
2. Wash pumpkin and cut off a lid, as you would to make a jack-o-lantern. Remove seeds and pulp, saving for future use if you like toasted seeds. Scrape insides of pumpkin with an ice cream scoop until you've removed all the squishy threads. Rub inside of pumpkin with olive oil, if desired.
3. Chop all ingredients down to cream and mix together inside pumpkin. Be sure to stir well so spices are distributed evenly.
4. Add cream until ingredients are just moistened. Stir again.
5. Place pumpkin top back on and bake for about two hours, or until flesh of the pumpkin can be gently pierced with a fork. Remove top and bake an additional 15-30 minutes, or until ingredients are golden brown. Be sure that flesh of the pumpkin doesn't get too soft!
6. Mix filling around with spoon, scraping some of the soft pumpkin and stirring into the mixture. Serve and impress everyone with your creative culinary presentation skills.

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