This afternoon I raced straight home from work, no running errands, no working a little late. I had to cook dinner! See, it started with these adorable little pumpkins. Merritt Farms at the Alachua County farmers market has been selling these tiny multi-colored pumpkins since Halloween. They’re so colorful, I just keep trying to find ways to use them so I have an excuse to buy more.
First I just baked them for pumpkin puree, then I tried hollowing them out and stuffing them with cheese and white wine and cream. That was delicious but crazy rich, too rich for a regular dinner. Then I saw this. I’ve been excited about trying this recipe ever since I saw it late last week on Tastespotting. Another excuse to buy cute mini-pumpkins! So tonight I used the same basic idea but spun it off in a whole new direction. Don’t skip the crumb topping, it really adds a lot to the texture of the dish.
Stuffed Pumpkins with Beef, Feta and Rosemary
5 small pumpkins
1 1/4 lb. ground beef, grass-fed if possible
1/4 c cold water
1/2 c dry breadcrumbs
3 oz crumbled feta
2 heaping tbl chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp. seasoning salt
plenty of cracked pepper
3/4 c dry breadcrumbs
3 tbl. brown sugar
1 tsp seasoning salt
plenty of cracked black pepper
3-4 tbl olive oil
Heat the oven to 350. First trim the pumpkins. Take each pumpkin and with a stout knife cut off the top 1/4, just enough to expose the top of the seed cavity. Scoop out the seeds and all of the stringy stuff from inside the seed cavity. Put the pumpkins in a baking dish and discard the tops (I baked them separately for pumpkin puree).
Combine the beef through pepper in a bowl and squish with your hands until thoroughly mixed. Carefully stuff the pumpkins. Don’t pack them very tightly, the meat mixture should be mounded a little on top.
Now combine the breadcrumbs through olive oil in the same bowl (don’t worry, it’s getting cooked!) and stir until the crumbs start to clump together a little, like wet sand. Spoon the crumb topping over each pumpkin so it covers the meat and the exposed top of the pumpkin. Press down lightly with the spoon to make the crumb topping stick a little better.
Pour a cup of water into the bottom of the baking dish and bake in the 350 oven for an hour. Test to see if the meat is cooked by inserting a meat thermometer into the middle of the largest pumpkin or by carefully cutting into the center and checking the color. These took almost an hour and 15 minutes for me. Let rest for at least 10 minutes.