Shiitake, Brussel Sprout and Wild Rice Stuffed Sugar Pumpkin

Shiitake, Brussel Sprout and Wild Rice Stuffed Sugar Pumpkin

Halloween is the perfect time to bake a stuffed pumpkin. Empty nesters such as ourselves have traded carving faces on pumpkins for stuffing them with mushrooms, nuts, wild rice and cranberries instead. And it feels good to pack the pantry with these local foods. Wild Rice is 30% lower in calories and 40% higher in protein than brown rice, and is grown in the state of Wisconsin, as are cranberries and shiitake mushrooms, not to mention the cache of brussell sprouts and pie pumpkins available at our local farmers market.

This delicious filling can be made ahead and even frozen for fillings or gratins, and the pumpkins can be pre-baked several days ahead. In fact, you will probably have some filling left over and it keeps well. Use the smallest pie (sugar) pumpkins you can find, or stuff one average small pie pumpkin and increase the baking time to make sure the stuffing is well heated through and melt the cheese. Eliminate the cheese to make a fine vegan dish.

We used Shiitake mushrooms for this dish but any mushroom will do nicely. We recommend a stronger flavored mushroom because the wild rice flavor is actually quite assertive and it is nice to give the mushrooms center stage.

The inspiration for this recipe came from Thank you!

4 small sugar (pie) pumpkins or 1 medium (or 6-8 mini pumpkins) 
1 ¼ c wild rice
2 ½ c water (yields 3-4 cups of cooked rice)
¾ tsp coarse salt
Salt, pepper and oil for seasoning the pumpkin and filling
¾ lb. brussel sprouts, shredded
2 -4 c sliced Shiitake mushrooms (the larger amount of mushrooms only increases the delectability of the dish for mushroom lovers)
1 large onion, chopped
4 T oil for roasting
1 c raw pecans
¼ c cider
2 T each fresh thyme
1 c dried cranberries
Optional: 6 oz of a melting cheese such as fontina, monterey jack, manchego or asiago fresco, chopped into tiny cubes or shredded

Prep the pumpkins by scooping out the filling and seeds. Pat dry and rub oil, salt and pepper over and inside the pumpkins. Bake until tender at 400°F 15-20 minutes. Let cool. Tip the pumpkins to drain of any excess water.

Make the rice: In a 2 qt sauce pan, bring the water and salt to a boil, add the rice, bring back to a boil, put on the lid and reduce heat to simmer. Cook 35-45 minutes.

Roast the vegetables: Chop or shred with the brussell sprouts and mushrooms with slicing attachment on a food processor. Tip into a wide bowl and add the onion and chopped thyme. Drizzle with 4 T olive oil or amount to well-coat the vegetables, and season with salt and pepper. Spread onto rimmed baking sheet and roast, stirring occasionally at 375°F until vegetables become lightly caramelized (about 10-15 minutes).

Stir in chopped pecans and cider, return to oven for 5 more minutes.

Remove from oven and add 3-4 c cooked wild rice. Add cubed cheese if desired.

Scoop into pumpkin shells, replace pumpkin lids and bake on an oiled roasting pan or wide casserole dish until cheese is melted and filling is hot. Slice into wedges and drizzle with sauce below, if desired.

Maple Cream Vinaigrette Sauce, for drizzling:
3 T olive oil
¼ t paprika
1T half and half 
1 smashed clove of garlic
1 T maple syrup
1 T orange juice and 1 T apple cider vinegar (or combination)

Whisk or blend to combine all ingredients (we recommend doubling up on the sauce recipe!)

Each small sugar pumpkin serves 2.