Stuffed Carnival Pumpkin
In the morning when I walk outside I feel the crisp cool air awaken me, followed by the smell of the cool damp leaves of fall. I love this time of year. The promise of the coming cold (I’m one of those weird people who likes the cold.), Halloween approaches with all of its festive TV specials and horror movies, and the arrival of my favourite foods. This is the time of year when you still can buy the last of summer’s tomatoes, eggplants and chilis and the markets begin to have luscious squashes, cauliflower, potatoes (both sweet and not), beets, brussel sprouts, carrots, lettuces and more. I would live all year round in the fall, if it were an option.
The stores and markets are stocked full of squashes. The long shelf life of these versatile gourds urged my curiosity to buy one of every variety to embark on a journey to discover the difference in flavour, texture, and use. I chose 7 types of squash in total and have yet to use many.
To start my fall cooking I wanted to do a simple dish that was full of fall flavour but let the pumpkins texture and flavour shine through. The first pumpkin I used is called a “Carnival pumpkin,” a green and yellow speckled variety that has dark green vertical stripes and a thick skin. It’s small cylindrical shape lends it perfectly for stuffing and baking.
I took the squash cut it in half and scooped out the seeds, rubbed it with olive oil, salt, and pepper, poked it through a couple times with a fork and baked it for 15 minutes at 375 degrees.
Meanwhile I made the stuffing using leftover vegetable ends laying around the house. I browned some crumbled tempeh (sausage or ground meat would do nicely) in olive oil, then threw in some leftover squash and celery root cut into small cubes, thinly sliced brussel sprouts and a handful of chopped walnuts. After browning everything until it begins to come together, add a little more olive oil, a dash of cinnamon, ground ginger, turmeric, paprika, coriander, a pinch of cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper.
Once the pumpkin is pre-cooked take the stuffing and pack it into the cavity. Return the stuffed pumpkin to the oven for another 20-30 minutes or until the a knife easily pierces through the pumpkin. Cut into chunks and serve warm. The spices bring back memories of warm mauled wine and go nicely with the soft sweet squash. The flesh is soft and creamy with a flavour reminiscent of sweet potato and butternut squash. The stuffings warmth and flavours are deep from the browning and spices but don’t overpower the squashes delicate flavour. The Carnival squash is a great variety as it’s tender flesh and delicious flavour will lends itself well to many recipes.
Go out and discover your local fall produce. As this time of year can seem short, stock up on all of the squash, sweet potatoes and other treats before the frost comes and enjoy every bite!