This recipe all started when a girlfriend of mine suggested an evening of Zootopia on Netflix (cute movie) and cooking dinner together. I drew a blank about what I should cook as I had been telling her forever I wanted to cook for her and now I had to put my money where HER mouth was! The heat was on. I asked her what she felt like and she said “something fall.” The wheels got turning. I love fall and fall foods and all things fall. I eye-raided Pinterest for a while but we ended up settling on a recipe she found in a book that featured stuffed mini pumpkins with a baked Caprese-like filling. Needless to say it was bomb.
I starting thinking about all the other things I could stuff pumpkins with. Soup filled pumpkins. Pie stuffed pumpkins. PUMPKIN PIE STUFFED PUMPKINS. Then I remembered that I had been really wanting to make a vegan Shepherd’s Pie. I made a mushroom based one years and years ago that came out awesome, then recently had seen a recipe where they used lentils and have totally been dreaming of how good it would be to have a mushroom AND lentil base. Then I was like…OMG…I could fill a pumpkin with that!
When I make Shepherd’s Pie of any kind, I do a traditional potato crust/topping but going with the fall theme I decided to try it with a sweet potato topping. The result was pretty freakin’ wonderful and I was very excited to share it on here as quickly as possible.
The pumpkins I used were called Wee B Littles. My friend looked them up during our trial run and made sure they were ok for eating. Any mini pumpkin should work as long as it’s good for eating. Obviously. Yeah. Anyway, I found this pumpkin type to be a perfect size and delicious to boot.
It was also filled with lots of seeds which I then roasted and used for a side salad. I made a very simple salad of spinach and sliced apple topped with lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and the pumpkin seeds I roasted while I prepped the pumpkins. I seasoned them with salt, pepper and Flavor Gods lemon garlic powder. I highly recommend doing this! It rounded out the meal perfectly. And surprisingly easy to make, except separating the pumpkin seeds from the pumpkin guts was a little bit of a pain. WORTH IT.
I anticipate more pumpkin-stuffing before the season is over. I would really like to try a dessert version next so stay tuned. 🙂
4 small pumpkins
2 large sweet potatoes, baked
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cups white mushrooms, finely chopped
8oz frozen peas and carrots
1 can organic lentils
3 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup Chardonnay
4 tablespoons Earth Balance vegan butter, split
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
1/2 cup almond milk
3 tablespoons organic flour
3 tablespoons water
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp paprika
salt/pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Cut the tops off the pumpkins, in a circle, with a pumpkin carving knife to make a lid. I scored it four times, on each side, to made it easier before using the pumpkin knife.
Poke holes on the top of the whole sweet potatoes with a fork and set in the oven, directly on the rack to bake while you prep the rest, about 45 minutes.
Clean out pumpkins removing all the “guts” and put aside seeds in a colander for roasting as a side salad topping (optional). After rinsing and cleaning I roasted the seeds for 20 minutes on a pan sprayed with coconut oil. After 20 minutes I took them out, topped with seasoning and a little more spray of oil and then stuck it back in for 10 more minutes.
Use a generous amount of olive oil to rub on the inside AND outside of the cleaned pumpkins, including the lid. Place the four pumpkins in a baking dish, including lids. I used a pyrex casserole baking dish. Set pumpkins aside.
In a large saucepan sauté the onions in olive oil until they start to become translucent. Add mushrooms and sauté until they soften. Add the frozen peas/carrots and sauté until no longer frozen.
Add the Chardonnay and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring.
Lower heat and add lentils, vegetable broth, rosemary, salt and pepper. Cover with lid and let simmer about 25 minutes.
Combine the 3 tablespoons water with the 3 tablespoons of flour until it makes a thin paste.
Remove lid and stir in two tablespoons Earth Balance and the water/flour mixture. Let simmer another 5-10 minutes until it thickens a little to a thin gravy consistency. If still too thin you can add more water/flour mixture.
Fill the pumpkins with the sauce and veggie mixture about 2/3rd’s full. Bake for 30 minutes.
Remove the skin from the baked sweet potatoes and put the rest into a bowl. Add the remaining Earth Balance and the almond milk. Mash with a fork until fluffy. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Remove pumpkins from oven and top with the mashed sweet potatoes. Sprinkle the tops with paprika. Bake for an additional 5-7 minutes.
Remove from oven and serve with a healthy side salad topped with your roasted pumpkins seeds. Receive much love from the people you serve this dish. Thank me lots. 🙂