Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fall with Style: Stuffed Pumpkins

Carving pumpkins used to be one of the most anticipated events of fall for me. A night flickering lights inside hallowed out gourds. These creative cut-outs glow for a few days in the windows, porches or front lawns across the country. Within a week there will be pumpkin blood on the streets. Punted from porches, chucked at churches and bashed on bridges you will find their remnants, wasted on some pumpkin punk’s cheap thrills. This fact keeps me from going public with my prized pumpkin presentations. Unfortunately, I know it will all too soon become a beacon the night calls someone to smash. College campuses are exactly not pumpkin-friendly. So I have to turn to edible alternatives.
People will stuff candles inside pumpkins, and maybe bake their seeds for a late-night snack, but somehow the train stops there. Why not stuff them with couscous, sausage and apples? Surprised to hear that your favorite Halloween decoration is actually edible? Don’t be. This is not just another gourd in the patch, but a versatile edible vessel. Native Americans baked, boiled and roasted pumpkins hundreds of years before anyone thought to scrape out their nutrients and set them out to rot. While you probably want to stick to the smaller, pie pumpkins for baking and eating, you could hypothetically eat your Jack-o-Lantern [though it’s not recommended – they are mostly grown for commercial use].
Thus, the Pumpkin Party evolved. Okay, so fresh pumpkins are more expensive than Easy Mac and require an oven, but their novel value and savory taste will have you more in the mood for fall than a giant bag of pumpkin-shaped candy corn.
Three small pumpkins fed five hungry people. But next time I will be making my guests their own personal pumpkins. We just couldn’t get enough of the tender, earthy pumpkin. With each bite, we got the soft texture of couscous, the celery-like taste of fennel seed in the Italian sausage, the sour bite of granny smith apple chunks and the sweetness of white wine and raisins. The “ooo’s” and “aaaa’s” bounced around the table; some surprised with the savory, wholesome meal that the Great Pumpkin had yielded. Gourds and squashes might not be traditional items on your menu, but to get in the seasonal, holiday spirit I would suggest a stuffed pumpkin.
Stuffed Pumpkins
3 small pumpkins
1 box [or about 1 cup uncooked] couscous
1 lb sweet Italian sausage
½ large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 granny smith apple, peeled and chopped
¼ cup white wine
½ cup raisins
Salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 425˚ F.
2. Clean pumpkin. Cut off top of pumpkin. Pull out the guts, separate the seeds if you wish to cook them. Scrape insides of pumpkin with spoon to get out all the stringy mess. Rinse inside of pumpkin.
3. In a frying pan, cook sausage until cooked [brown]. Drain off grease. Put into mixing bowl.
4. Meanwhile, make couscous according to package instructions. Add to bowl.
5. Cook onions and garlic in frying pan until translucent. Add to bowl.
6. Add apple, raisins, wine, and spices/herbs. Mix all together.
7. Spoon stuffing evenly into pumpkins. Put top back on pumpkin.
8. Completely wrap pumpkins in tin foil.
9. Bake for about 30 min – or until fork tender.
10. Enjoy this fall treat! But I wouldn’t recommend the outer skin of the pumpkin, as it is tough.


  1. Wow - I never thought of that! Do you have other recipes for gourds?

  2. Does the size of the pumpkin make a difference on cooking time?

  3. @Lisa - This recipe could be used for gourds as well, such as butternut or acorn. You might also try a sweet/dessert stuffing in them as well.

    @Anonymous - Yes, the size of the pumpkin will make a difference in cooking time. Mine were about 2 lb pumpkins. My biggest tip is to watch them and test them with a fork. Eating uncooked pumpkin is not recommended