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December 3, 2011

Every year in college, my housemates and close friends would hold a Thanksgiving for everyone we knew who hadn’t gone home for the holidays. With our workload, this was pretty much everyone and word of mouth spread well beyond our circle. People would bring their friends; sometimes we wouldn’t know half the people there. One year, there were more than 50 of us. It was glorious, four hours late, and the clean-up stretched out over two weeks (gross, I know). Even after we graduated, we kept hosting, and there were always new people to celebrate with.

Last year when L. and I moved to Boston, however, we broke the line of tradition. And when we moved back this year, we found that all our friends have turned into real, certifiable grown-ups, with jobs and the free time and money to fly home for the holiday weekend. Also, our families, despite having lived with us for a year, missed us, and bought flights themselves to come celebrate with us. It was a lovely, lovely weekend, but something was missing. So this weekend, a dear friend and I will be hosting a Re-Thanksgiving, because why have one day filled with good food and gratitude, when you can have two? It will be filled with loved ones and pie, and thanks, and strangers.

Bread- and Cheese-Stuffed Roast Pumpkin

(Barely) adapted from Melissa Clark’s In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite.
Serves 4-5 very hungry eaters, 8-10 as a part of a holiday spread.

Whether you’re planning a Re-Thanksgiving, or looking ahead to plan December holiday feasts, this is a perfect dish, especially if you have vegetarians or are serving a dairy meal. So often, those of us going meat-less are relegated to the few bacon-free side dishes. This stuffed pumpkin is the solution: delicious, rich, impressive, and surprisingly quick to prepare. I also love how its stuffing mimics a stuffed turkey (overly cutesy? maybe, but do it anyways).

A few notes:
– I used stale bread in this, because I had some to finish off. I dialed up the sauce, but it’s still a little on the dry side. So if you’re using old bread, I would recommend fully doubling the cream-wine sauce (or you could try adding in a cup of vegetable broth).
– I subbed in some parmesan for gruyere, because I’m not the hugest fan of gruyere in huge doses. Feel free to change it back.

1 sugar pumpkin, approximately 3-4 lbs.
7 (1-inch) slices of baguette
1 large garlic clove
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup whole milk
3 fresh sage leaves
½ + 1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground pepper
5 oz. grated gruyère and parmesan cheese (I used 1¾ cups)
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

–       Scrub pumpkin.
–       Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut the baguette rounds length-wise, so you have 14. Toast the baguette slices until they’re until they’re golden-brown (about 5-7 minutes).
–       Peel and smoosh garlic.
–       Combine the cream, wine, milk, garlic and sage in saucepan. Bring to a boil (medium heat should do), stirring often. Reduce the heat to low, let it simmer for five minutes, continuing to stir occasionally. Remove the pan from heat, remove the sage leaves and garlic from the pan, add the salt, nutmeg, and ground pepper.
–       While the cream mixture simmers, decapitate your pumpkin and scrape out the insides and seeds*. Set the pumpkin on a baking pan.
–       Layer one tier of baguettes on the bottom of the hollow pumpkin. Follow with 1/3 of the cheese. Pour a third of the cream mixture over it. Repeat x2.
–       Replace the pumpkin lid. Rub olive oil over the outside of the pumpkin, and follow with a rub of the remaining one teaspoon of salt.
–       Bake the pumpkin about 1 ¼ hours, until the skin blisters and the flesh is tender.
–       Cool. Slice. Serve.

*Waste not, want not! Save some for next year’s gardening! And roast the rest!

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