I mentioned before that a pumpkin’s greatness is in part due to its hollowness. We’ve talked about floating pumpkins, pumpkin drums, and of course, Jack-o-lanterns, but perhaps best of all, a pumpkin can be hollowed out to create a bowl! You can use a cleaned out pumpkin to hold pre-made food, such as soups or a casserole, or you can actually cook in the pumpkin shell as well! Here are five festive ways to turn your gourd into a gourmet dish!
1. Apple Crisp! I love making this Pumpkin Apple Bake recipe in the fall, cooking it up inside the pumpkin. The children love using the apple peeler/slicer to help out. I give the apples a head start by cooking them on the stove before putting them in the pumpkin and cooking it all together. The pumpkin does soften a bit, but holds its shape as long as you don’t cook longer than 1 1/2 hours or so. Take the opportunity to talk science and compare the cooked pumpkin to the uncooked pumpkin lid!
2. Soups, Stews, and Chiles! Cook up your favorite fall time soup. Place it in a hollowed out pumpkin and serve it up from there! Try out this delicious Potato Soup recipe or this tasty one for Chicken and Rice. You could also use smaller hollowed out pumpkins as individual soup bowls!
3. Shepherd’s Pie! Because Shepherd’s Pie is basically cooked already, it doesn’t take long just to melt the cheese on top. This helps keep your pumpkin from getting too soft. Try this tasty recipe here. (I omit chipotle chiles when cooking for the little ones.)
4. Dips! Whether you’re having something sinfully savory like this one, or going the healthy route with something like this, you can easily put your favorite dip inside a pumpkin, place it on a platter, and serve chips, veggies, or bread all around the pumpkin.
5. I Scream! OK, a little Halloween play on words. Use small pumpkins to hold ice cream! Serve up your favorite flavor with cookies on the side!
Whichever route tempts you most, start by cutting the top of your pumpkin off. Jack-o-lantern style is usually a little too small. Don’t be afraid to cut off 1/4 to 1/3 of the pumpkin. This gives a wider opening which makes it easier to serve food. Hollow it out well, and then rinse.
Don’t forget to involve your children in this fun project! Have your little ones help you hollow out your pumpkin and rinse it. Let them help make the food to go inside as well. (Read more about how cooking benefits the child’s development here.) Serve it up for something truly memorable! Don’t worry if you’ve missed Halloween. Pumpkins are a symbol of harvest and a fun fall fixture! (Say that ten times fast!)
Enjoy a special pumpkin surprise with your little ones!
For more favorite fall activities, click here!