What’s a vegetarian to do? Thanksgiving dinner is built around the turkey. Roast turkey is a showpiece food, plus it smells wonderful. The side dishes are typically vegetarian: green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, dressing, cranberries and green vegetables. Even dessert is OK; pie is vegetarian.
A vegetarian Thanksgiving calls for a showpiece food, not another plate of pasta or quinoa casserole. You need a special once-a-year dish that might take some effort to prepare. My favorite suggestion: stuffed pumpkin.
- Looks impressive
- Seasonal ingredients
- Cooks ahead, leaving you time to do other things before dinner
The key is to use a pie pumpkin, not a huge Jack-o-Lantern pumpkin. The flesh or pie pumpkins is edible, with flavor and texture like squash.
This recipe doesn’t use cooked grains. I use kernel corn and beans, in a variation on the flavor of Mexican street corn. Added benefit: squash is a traditional Native American and Central American staple food, so the cooked pumpkin goes nicely with the seasonings. Another benefit: you can use frozen kernel corn, so no need to cook grains ahead of time.
Cleaning out the pumpkin may be the most time-consuming step. Wash it off and let it dry. Using a sharp strong knife, cut carefully around the stem end to lift the top off.
Then use a large metal spoon to scrape out the seeds. You want the interior to be smooth and clean. If you aren’t ready to proceed, put the top back on and refrigerate while you make the stuffing.
Holiday Stuffed Pumpkin
A festive holiday meal like Thanksgiving needs a showpiece main dish. This one is pretty easy to assemble once you have the pumpkin cleaned out.
- 1 8-10 inch pie pumpkin
- 12 oz package frozen corn, thawed
- 1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup chopped onion or scallions
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes or 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
- juice of one lime
- 1-2 tsp mild ground chili, or to taste. For spicier flavor, use ground chipotle
- 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
- 1 cup crumbled feta or soft cotija cheese
- 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
- Step 1 Heat oven to 350o.
- Step 2 Select a baking pan that’s big enough for the pumpkin
- Step 3 Clean the pumpkin according to the instructions above
- Step 4 Mix the mayonnaise, sour cream, garlic, lime juice, jalapeno and ground chili together in a bowl.
- Step 5 In a large sauce pan, combine the corn, beans, onion and tomatoes. Cover and heat gently until the vegetables start to steam a bit, not boiling.
- Step 6 Add the mayonnaise mixture, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 of the cheese to the vegetables and mix thoroughly to combine.
- Step 7 Put the top back on the pumpkin.
- Step 8 Put pumpkin in the roasting pan and add 1/2 inch of water.
- Step 9 Bake 40-60 minutes, until a fork goes into the pumpkin with just a little resistance. The pumpkin should hold its shape, not slump.
- Step 10 Remove the top and sprinkle the rest of the cheese on the stuffing, along with 1/2 the cilantro.
- Step 11 Arrange on a serving platter.
- Step 12 Serve with lime wedges and cilantro for garnish.
- Step 13 To serve, either slice wedges of pumpkin and stuffing, or scoop stuffing and some pumpkin out with a large spoon.