Thanksgiving Stuffed Pumpkin
The Esselstyns’ Thanksgivings have included this stuffed pumpkin for years. Ann Crile Esselstyn serves it with mushroom gravy and cranberry sauce. Bake any extra stuffing that doesn’t fit in the pumpkin in a separate dish.
1 large loaf whole wheat bread, cut into cubes
4-5 cups vegetable broth
1-2 onions, chopped
2-4 stalks celery, chopped
2-3 carrots, chopped
8-ounce can sliced water chestnuts
3 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons parsley flakes
2 1/2 teaspoons thyme
2 1/2 teaspoons sage
1 1/4 teaspoons marjoram
2-3 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
Several twists of freshly ground pepper to taste
1 medium pumpkin or large winter squash
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2. Place the bread on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.
3. Place the broth, onions, celery, carrots and seasonings in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes.
4. Cut the top off the pumpkin or winter squash and save for a cover (as if you were going to make a jack-o-lantern). Clean out the seeds and stringy portion, leaving plenty of the squash flesh along the sides. Rinse well and set aside.
5. Place the bread cubes in a large bowl, add water chestnuts, then pour the cooked broth and vegetables over the bread and toss well until bread is saturated with the liquid. Cover the bowl and allow liquid to be absorbed for about 10-15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings (adding more poultry seasoning and ground pepper, if needed).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the stuffing into the cleaned pumpkin and cover with the pumpkin top. Place in a large baking dish. Add 1 inch of water to the bottom of the baking dish. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until fork pierces the side of the pumpkin easily.
Note: To save some time, cube the bread the night before and allow it to sit uncovered in a single layer overnight. This will eliminate the need to bake the bread cubes in the oven. Substitute a little rye or pumpernickel bread for the some of the whole wheat to vary flavor.