Sunday, November 9, 2008

Starter: Pumpkin Stuffed with Bread and Cheese

Mr. & Mrs. Meyer joined us for dinner last night, and their visit seemed like the perfect opportunity to try something I'd read about a week or so ago on food writer Dorie Greenspan's blog: a stuffed pumpkin.

The concept is pretty simple: take a 2-3 lb pumpkin, cut a lid out the way you might with a jack-o-lantern and scoop out the seeds and strings. But then instead of carving a face in the little guy, stuff it with a mixture of bread, cheese and chopped garlic, then pour some heavy cream laced with nutmeg over the bread mixture, put the lid back on the pumpkin and roast the whole thing at 350 for 2 hours. What you end up with is an eggless bread-and-cheese strata surrounded by tender, fragrant roasted pumpkin. In a word: sublime.

Greenspan notes that you can use just about any combination of bread and cheese. I used Italian bread and Parmesan cheese because that's what I had on hand. But I think gruyere or brie and french bread or even pumpernickel and white cheddar would be equally scrumptious. I also think my pumpkin may have been smaller than what was called for -- I used a pie pumpkin that was probably closer to one and a half pounds than three pounds. Regardless, it came out really well.

To serve, I used a sharp knife to cut the pumpkin into four parts and we each dove into our personal hunk of pumpkiny goodness, leaving only the pumpkin's skin on our plates by the end. A wonderful treat for a fall evening and one I plan to return to again and again in years to come. Yum!

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