Thursday, October 24, 2013

Dinner in a Pumpkin

Here's a fun and delicious dinner idea for the season.  The main dish is baked in the pumpkin shell and can be scooped out with a little pumpkin  when served.  It is a very festive family meal that combines chicken, rice, spinach, ricotta cheese and pumpkin.  The flavors meld together reminiscent of a Chicken Florentine dish, with a creamy "comfort food" satisfaction.

Dinner in a Pumpkin
Serves 8

1 medium pumpkin; top cut off and seeds removed
3 cups Cooked Chicken meat, chopped.
4 cups rice (brown or white) : already cooked
1 stick of organic butter
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 small onion chopped
2 small cloves garlic crushed and chopped
1/2 cup flour (whole wheat or white is okay)
2   cups chicken broth
1  1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups frozen spinach (thawed and the liquid squeezed out)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2  teaspoons salt 
1 1/2 cups Mozzarella, Provolone, Monterey Jack, or Parmesan Cheese; or combine any of these.

Preheat oven to 350
Cut off top of pumpkin and remove fiber and seeds,  Rinse and pat dry
Mix chicken and rice and set aside.
In a large sauce pan or skillet melt butter over medium heat;  add mushrooms, onion and garlic. Saute until all are slightly tender.  Add flour and stir until well mixed and bubbly.  Add broth and continue stirring until well mixed.  Add spinach, nutmeg, salt, pepper and ricotta cheese.  Stir until well mixed. Add rice and chicken and combine all the ingredients gently.  Put all into the pumpkin shell, top with Mozzarella cheese and place the lid back on top.   Place on a baking sheet that has been covered in parchment paper.  Bake in oven about 2 hours.

Note:  This does take some time for the pumpkin to actually bake: if you just want to serve the meal from the pumpkin, but don't really want to eat any of the pumpkin itself, it will be done in about an hour.  Also, I took the lid off and put foil over the whole pumpkin after about an hour, to keep the pumpkin shell from getting too brown.  I cooked it with the foil on for the next hour.  I also turned on the broiler and took the foil off the last ten minutes to give the cheese a nice brown look.  When you cook the pumpkin until it is tender, you can easily spoon some out of the side as you dish up the meal.  Be sure to pat some butter on it and salt and pepper as well.

Another option, is to put this into 2 medium/small pumpkins or four small pumpkins, or cover the empty pumpkin shell, and cook it ahead; once its cooked, pat with a paper towel, and fill with casserole then bake 45 minutes to an hour.

Have fun.

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  1. Ohhhh boy, that looks SO warmingly, comfortingly delicious!

    Yummm :)

  2. Anne, do you grow pumpkins in Lewis?

  3. Wow, Mom this looks AMAZING!! I love the pictures TOO!!! Such a good idea and you really have me thinking that I should do it! I need some new ideas :) I love you!!!

  4. That looks so wonderfully festive. I could see myself setting our kiddos down to this. How fun!

    thanks for sharing~


  5. This looks so yummy and comfy and heavenly and oh yes, I think I need to make this before my pumpkins turn to mush!

    Have a great day!

  6. Do you cook the chicken before putting in the oven?

    1. Yes, the chicken is precooked.... I realize I didn't specify that; I will change that right now. Thanks for the inquiry.