While we all grew up with the notion of picking the biggest pumpkin to display in our yards for Halloween, when it comes to cooking pumpkin, the smaller, the sweeter.
Most of us, including myself, don’t know this, as we’ve grown up with umpteen recipes using canned pumpkin for the requisite pie for Thanksgiving. Now don’t get me wrong, I love pumpkin pie and canned pumpkin makes the process that much easier. But there’s so much more to pumpkin than pie.
So I say it’s high time to allow this most luscious and nutrient dense of fruits to be the main attraction before dessert. Presenting….
Farro, Mushroom and Sausage Stuffed Baby Pumpkins
These bright orange baked orbs are a show-stopping, scene-stealing entrée or side dish for your Thanksgiving table. Filled to the brim with a divine mélange of chewy farro, earthy baby bella mushrooms, sweet vegan breakfast sausage, buttery pecans, and tart cranberries, sautéed together with aromatics and fresh herbs, this dish represents Earth’s bounties that we have much to be thankful for.
Farro is an ancient grain with a dense chewy texture. You can replace it with brown rice, barley or quinoa.
In a perfect world, all of these pumpkins would be of equal size the day you do your food shopping. Probably won’t happen. No worries. Just try to get them as equal in size and weight as possible. You can accommodate the difference in size when you pre-roast. I’ve included that information in the recipe.
Mini pumpkins are smaller than these baby sugar pie pumpkins. If using, you will need more mini pumpkins.
I used blood orange extra virgin olive oil, which I keep in the house. Feel free to use another fruit-flavored oil.
Serve with your usual side dishes for Thanksgiving for a festive tablescape. Or add them as one of your side dishes. Cooks Choice!
Farro, Mushroom and Sausage Stuffed Baby Pumpkins
6-8 small sugar pie pumpkins
Blood orange extra virgin olive oil or other fruit-flavored EVOO
Neutral oil such as grapeseed
1 7.2 oz package Beyond Breakfast Sausage patties or equivalent, defrosted
½ cup finely chopped shallot
½ cup finely chopped celery
2 cups chopped baby bella mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 sage leaves, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh chopped thyme
1 tsp fresh chopped rosemary
1 T fresh chopped parsley
2 ½ cups cooked farro
½ cup vegetable stock/broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Zest of one orange
2 T fresh squeezed orange juice
½ cup toasted pecans
2/3 cup dried cranberries
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Wash and dry the pumpkins. Cut off the tops of the pumpkins about ¾ inch down, and set aside.
Remove all of the seeds and stringy flesh from the pumpkins. Discard. Brush the inside and outside of the pumpkins with the blood orange EVOO. Generously salt the inside of the pumpkins. Brush the inside of the pumpkins with the maple syrup, dispersing the salt to the entire interior. Put the pumpkin tops back on and brush those with the oil.
Place the pumpkins on a parchment lined sheet pan and roast 20-30 minutes, depending on size, until just tender. Check at 20 minutes and remove any that are tender if there are different sized pumpkins. When cooked remove the tops and set aside for service.
Lower the oven to 350 degrees.
In the meantime, crumble the defrosted sausage patties. Cook in a nonstick pan in a bit of the grapeseed oil until browned and cooked through, stirring up and crumbling further. Set aside.
In a very large nonstick pan, heat 2 T grapeseed oil. When shimmering, add the shallots and celery and cook on medium until translucent. Add another tablespoon of oil, the mushrooms, garlic, and herbs, and cook until the mushrooms are softened and browning. Add the cooked sausage crumbles, cooked farro, and broth, and heat through, stirring up to evenly distribute. Taste for seasoning and adjust. If very dry, add more broth.
Add the zest, orange juice, pecans and cranberries and cook until everything is heated through, again stirring up well to distribute all ingredients evenly. Remove from heat.
Place the pumpkin bottoms in an oven-safe pan that just fits all of them. Fill the cavities with the stuffing to the top, pressing down to fit as much in as possible. (If you have extra stuffing you can cook them in ramekins or just enjoy as is.)
Do not put the tops back on yet.
Bake the stuffed pumpkins until hot all the way through, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and place the tops back on for service. Serve immediately.
Store leftovers in the fridge 2-3 days.
About Deborah Brooks
Deborah is currently a documentary film producer. She is also a former certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition coach. The shutdown of business due to Covid-19 and the implication of an animal wet market connection caused her to rethink her high animal protein food lifestyle. She has spent the last year exploring the world of plant based eating for her own health as well as the health of the planet and all of its sentient beings. Her recipes can be found on Instagram. She would love you to follow along on her journey.
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