Baked Sugar Pie Pumpkin with Savory Rice Stuffing

by Debra Daniels-Zeller

Use a sturdy sharp knife and be very careful cutting the pumpkin. Bake it on a baking sheet if you like but it has better integrity in a casserole dish. Getting the heavy stuffed pumpkin on a serving plate can be tricky, so I generally leave it in the casserole dish. Always rinse wild rice thoroughly before cooking.

3 pound sugar pie pumpkin
1/3 cup Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, or butter (approximate measure)
2 cups vegetarian or mushroom stock
1/2 cup brown rice (use your favorite variety)
1/2 cup wild rice
1 1/2 cups mushrooms, sliced (use button, chanterelles, shiitake or crimini)
1/2 cup shallots or onion minced
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 tsp sage
2 cups baby spinach
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup toasted walnuts or hazelnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°. Cut off the pumpkin top and clean out the inside, removing the seeds and smoothing out the insides. Use one or two tablespoons of Earth Balance Sticks or butter to coat the inside of the pumpkin. Place pumpkin with the top in the oven and bake for 1 hour, or until tender. Set aside. While the pumpkin bakes prepare the stuffing.

Bring the vegetarian stock to a boil in a small saucepan. Add rice, wild rice and about a tablespoon of butter. Bring to a second boil, then simmer for 50 minutes. Check at 40 minutes and add more stock or water, if necessary. When some of the grains have burst open revealing grey interiors, they are done.

Dry-fry the mushrooms in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Stir until the mushrooms soften, then remove from pan. Add remaining butter and shallots and cook on medium-low until shallots are lightly browned. Add mushrooms and sage; stir and continue to cook for a few minutes.

Stir the rice, mushrooms and spinach together. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stuff mixture into the pumpkin, return to oven and bake for 10 minutes.

Garnish with chopped toasted walnuts.

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