I've been thinking about stuffing a pumpkin for a while. Specifically, I was looking for a recipe where I could just cram some uncooked wild rice or quinoa in a pumpkin and have a meal after a couple of hours. I didn't find that, but I did find a simple recipe that's extremely customizable that was originally from Dorie Greenspan. It's a perfect vegetarian main dish or side dish for fall or Thanksgiving dinners. It's really easy, too. The short version is: get a pumpkin, remove the guts, stuff it with cheese and bread, and cook it for two hours. But the longer version may be a bit more helpful.

And please excuse my photos. I snapped these as I was cooking and serving, not sure how it would turn out and not up for a photo sesh. But they give you a good idea of sizing and doneness. I placed my pumpkin in a 7 qt Dutch oven.

All done! I forgot to remove the lid to brown the stuffing and it still tasted great.
All done! I forgot to remove the lid to brown the stuffing and it still tasted great.

Vegetarian Stuffed Pumpkin
serves 4-6
adapted from a recipe by Dorie Greenspan via PBS

  • 1 medium "pie" or "sugar" pumpkin, about 3 pounds (about the size of a basketball)
  • Smoked salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups stale or refrigerated bread cubes (½-inch)
  • 8 - 12 ounces cheese, such as Gouda, Havarti, Gruyère, Emmenthal, cheddar, or a combination, cut into ½-inch chunks
  • 2–4 chopped garlic cloves (to taste) or 1-2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • About ¼ cup snipped fresh chives OR
  • 1 tablespoon of Wash Park seasoning blend from Savory Spice Shop
  • About ⅓ cup heavy cream or milk

Place the oven rack on the lower middle or lower setting and pre-heat the oven to 350F.

Scrub the outside of the pumpkin to clean. Then cut a hole in the top large enough to clean out and stuff the pumpkin, making sure to cut at a 45 degree angle so that the resulting lid will rest on top (like a jack-o-lantern). Scoop out the seeds and strings and remove them from the lid as well. Discard or keep the seeds for roasting later. Sprinkle salt and pepper inside the pumpkin (and around the edges) to taste.

Combine the bread, cheese, garlic, and seasoning in a large bowl and toss together to mix. Place the stuffing in the pumpkin and pour the cream or milk on top to moisten.

Pumpkin ready for roasting. Note how the top was cut at an angle to keep the lid secure.
Pumpkin ready for roasting. Note how the top was cut at an angle to keep the lid secure.

Place the lid on top and put the pumpkin in a large oven-proof casserole or Dutch oven or on a large baking sheet (contents may bubble over or pumpkin may lose shape). Cook for two hours or until the stuffing is bubbling (check after 90 minutes for doneness). Remove the lid for the last 15 minutes or so to brown the stuffing, if desired. The pumpkin is ready when the skin can be easily pierced with a fork.

To serve, scoop contents and cut portions of the side of the pumpkin.

Notes: I used Gouda and Havarti, which tasted great. A Gruyère or Emmenthal would have made a creamier filling, though (think fondue). For a heartier meal, reduce the salt and seasoning and add veggie sausage. I served mine topped with arugula and with a side of rice pilaf (with golden raisins and walnuts).


A friend of mine brought over some tarragon from her garden recently. I wasn’t really sure what to do with it, but then I remembered I’d just gotten some red new potatoes at the farmers’ market and figured if it’s good for chicken salad, surely tarragon would be good in potato salad. And it is! Tarragon has a unique flavor; similar to anise but not as reminiscent of the dreaded black jellybean. I definitely went light with it. Using a shallot instead of onion made it a milder salad, too. The fried shallot is from the international market and added a nice bit of crunch and texture.

I served this as part of a 4th of July dinner al fresco. It was also a great occasion to try out some Repurpose dinnerware I was sent recently to try. Repurpose is kinder, gentler disposable serveware; the cups, cutlery, and plates are all made exclusively from plants (corn, sugar, and bamboo with soy inks) and completely compostable. They’re also BPA-free, chlorine-free, and petroleum-free. Though not completely tested, it is believed that the limited amount of soy ink used will not create an issue with anyone with a soy allergy.

Repurpose is not just earth-friendly, they’re also really durable. The plates and cutlery are strong and the cups aren’t flimsy at all. You can definitely tell there’s something different about them, but in a good way. They’re surprisingly sturdy; they held up to a plate of this potato salad and a couple of Smart Dogs really well! Repurpose compostables are available at stores across the country (though none in Nashville) and are available online.


Tarragon Potato Salad
a variation of Potato Salad with Tarragon and Shallots from Saveur
Serves 6-8

2 pounds red new potatoes, cut in bite-size pieces
½ cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons red wine or apple cider vinegar
1 shallot, peeled and diced
3 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
¼ cup fried shallot to finish (optional)

Boil potatoes in a large pot of salted water until tender, 10–20 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl to cool.

Once cool (room temperature), add mayonnaise, vinegar, shallots, and tarragon and stir gently to combine. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Top with fried shallot when serving.

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Creeping cucumber flower with tiny fruit already forming
Creeping cucumber flower with tiny fruit already forming

There's still not a lot new coming out of my kitchen these days. Well, not a lot that's photo-worthy. But there are a few things I'd like to share.

Peach season is in full swing right now. Though the crops from the southernmost states have stopped, Tennessee and South Carolina peaches are still going. I made a peach galette recently (I won't talk about the crust) using this filling recipe from Epicurious. I made a few modifications that really took this filling to the next level. It was crazy delicious. I just added half a teaspoon of ground ginger and a 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar.

Summer also means cucumbers and watermelons, so don't forget that both make excellent chilled soups.

First, there's my watermelon gazpacho  recipe (the rare tomato-less gazpacho). I cannot say enough great things about this soup. It is fantastic.

Next is this chilled cucumber soup recipe from my friend, Hedy. She actually just brought me a cucumber from her garden this weekend, so this is on the menu for the upcoming week!

Last is a soup to use with that bounty of squash that's coming in, squash soup with avocado lime cream. This year has been a good one for squash and I know a lot of people who are overrun with them. Tip for them: this soup freezes well and tastes great warm, too so put some up for winter!

When we bought this house last summer, I knew that I would have to give up on growing tomatoes altogether. I have fought squirrels for many years and not only would I have to fight them here, too, but there's just not enough sun to grow much of anything. However, there are lots of "wild edibles" here, including lamb's quarter, mountain mint, dandelions, greenbrier, sassafras, wood sorrel, and chickweed. I haven't really tried much with them, but I was happy to find a number of creeping cucumber vines all around the property. The squirrels and deer don't seem to be interested, so that's great for me (as long as I get them before they turn dark, which is when they become poisonous). Creeping cucumber is a very delicate light green vine with flowers that are shaped like English ivy or maple leaves. The small yellow flowers (very small) grow into small fruits that look like teeny tiny watermelons but taste like delicate sweet cucumbers. The mature fruits are about the size of a jelly bean.

Lastly, I have really, REALLY been enjoying my Hamilton Beach waffle maker, (which I mentioned on Bites). It comes with a recipe booklet that contains a number of waffle recipes, but I love the Buttermilk Waffles recipe so much that I haven't even bothered to try any of the others. I haven't been able to find it online (the recipe on the Hamilton Beach site is not the same), so I thought I'd share it here. I hope it's okay with them! It's just so good and versatile. The waffles are crisp on the outside and tender inside and the flavor is good for either sweet breakfast waffles or for savory waffle sandwiches. The recipe yields 6 waffles (usually), so I store several in the fridge and warm them in the toaster oven later for sandwiches.

Buttermilk Waffles
from Hamilton Beach
yield: 6 waffles (in the the previously mentioned waffle maker)

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk*
6 tablespoons butter, melted (and cooled, slightly)
2 eggs, lightly beaten

*before assembling everything, prepare your buttermilk first by placing 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice in a 2-cup measuring cup and filling the rest of the way (to 1 1/2 cups) with regular milk and stir and let sit for about five minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; stir in buttermilk, butter, and eggs stirring until thoroughly mixed (batter will be thick). Pour one pre-measured scoop (for your waffle maker) into the middle of the waffle maker. Close lid and cook 6 or 7 minutes until brown (time may vary by waffle maker). Batter can be thinned with up to 1/2 cup of water if necessary.