I haven't decided what to make. The obvious choice, to me anyway, would be a dessert. But I want to make sure there's some "real food" there too. So, I was looking through recipes online and this Sausage Stuffed Pumpkins recipe really caught my eye. I decided to try it out first to see how I liked it and if it would work in a potluck setting. As you can see - it's a pretty neat presentation:
And with the changes I made to suit our tastes (no mushrooms, cut way back on the onions/shallots) and my less-fuss cooking attitude - it was absolutely delicious! The pumpkin totally softens up, so with each bite, you get both the sweet, soft pumpkin and savory sausage and rice. It's a perfect fall meal, if you ask me.
In the end, I decided it's probably not the best potluck dish where people will be eating on couches and balancing plates on their laps, since the filling isn't super stiff. But assuming you eat dinner at the table, that shouldn't be an obstacle - so I'd highly recommend giving this a try. It would also make a great Thanksgiving dish!
Here's my adaptation:
Sausage & Rice Baked Stuffed Pumpkin
1 cup instant brown rice
1 1/2 + 1/4 cups chicken broth (about 1 can)
1/2 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. olive oil
2 links mild Italian sausage
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 shallot, minced
3 Tbsp. white wine
1/4 c. dried currents
1 tsp. dried sage
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1 sugar pumpkin (about 2.5 - 3 lbs.)
salt & pepper
Carve a circle around the top of the pumpkin to cut the top off, as if you were getting ready to carve a jack o' lantern. Scoop the seeds & pulp out and discard. (You can save the top for presentation if you want; I did not.)
Sprinkle the inside of the pumpkin with salt and pepper. Place in a 2-quart casserole dish or other baking pan filled with 1/2" water.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a small sauce pan, bring 1 1/2 c. chicken stock and 1/2 tsp. curry to a boil. Add 1 cup instant brown rice and reduce heat to low, simmer for 10-15 minutes (as recommended by package directions) until cooked.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tsp. olive oil in a small saute pan over medium heat. Cut sausage links open and crumble meat into pan, discarding casing. Saute about 5 minutes until no longer pink. Push the sausage to the side of the pan and add minced garlic and shallots to the open space. Saute 1-2 minutes until soft. Add currents, sage, parsley, 1/4 c. chicken broth and 3 Tbsp. white wine to the sausage/shallot mixture. Stir to combine. Let cook over medium-low heat until most of the liquid is absorbed.
Add cooked rice to sausage mixture and stir well to combine. Scoop mixture into pumpkin. Top with pumpkin topper, if using. Bake for 30 minutes at 350°F. Loosely cover with foil and bake another 30 minutes until pumpkin flesh is soft.
Let cool 5 minutes. Then cut pumpkin into 4-6 wedges. Carefully place on plates, keeping as much filling on top of the wedge as possible. (I just scooped what fell off onto the side of each plate.)