Mini Pumpkins Filled with Chantrelle Mushrooms

The rain has begun and fall is here which means fresh mushrooms in the Northwest. The following recipe uses the small pumpkins as a savory preparation. Most people aren’t aware that those cute little pumpkins you see as decorations on everyone’s table or porch can be eaten. I like to fill these with Chinese black rice and mushrooms cooked in a cream sauce. Chantrelle mushrooms have a subtle apricot taste to them and pairs wonderfully with pumpkin. These are vegetarian friendly. I doubt you will miss the meat though since these are very hearty!

Pumpkins filled with Chantrelle Mushrooms – Serves 4
4 small pumpkins – washed well, cut lids and remove seeds
2 large shallots chopped fine
2 cloves garlic chopped fine
½ pound Chantrelle Mushrooms (if unavailable use Shitake), sliced thick
1 tablespoon sweet butter (unsalted butter)
1 cup Chinese Black Rice, called Forbidden Rice (if unavailable use wild rice)
3 cups Vegetable stock (I use veggie demi-glace for better flavor)
Sea Salt and Black Pepper (to taste)
Zahtar spice (for pumpkin seeds)
Olive oil (for pumpkin seeds)
Fresh Nutmeg (to taste)
½ cup Sherry wine or Marsala wine
1 cup heavy whipping cream

After you have cut the pumpkins and removed the seeds, bake the pumpkins at 350 degrees covered with foil in a small amount of water in a baking pan until soft, but not squishy. Remove from the water bath and reserve.

Toss the pumpkin seeds with Zahtar spice and pepper and a small amount of olive oil, bake on a cookie sheet until brown. Reserve. (watch the seeds, they bake quickly)

(Zahtar spice is a spice found in Jordan and is used like our salt and pepper here in the US it contains sumac [pronounced “Soo-mak” The brick to dark purple-red berries of a decorative bush that grows wild throughout the Middle East and in parts of Italy. Sumac, which is sold ground or in its dried-berry form, has a pleasantly fruity, astringent taste that complements everything from fish to meat to vegetables], sesame and thyme)

Make the rice while the pumpkins cook. Add two cups of vegetable stock to 1 cup of rice. Bring to a boil and immediately turn down the heat until just barely simmering. Cook until done. If you are using wild rice add one more cup of water to your stock. While you rice is cooking, make the mushrooms.

Add butter and small amount of olive oil to a large frying pan and melt. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for approximately 3-5 minutes until soft, but not brown. Add the mushrooms and turn the heat to medium high. Cook until the mushrooms have released all their water and are brown. Add the sherry wine or marsala wine to deglaze the pan. Scrape up all the browned bits in the pan and continue cooking the mushrooms. When the wine is almost evaporated, add 1 cup of vegetable stock, cook for 5 minutes, then add the cream and continue to cook for 10-20 minutes more or until the cream has thickened. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.

To serve: Fill the body of the pumpkin ¾ full with Black Rice, fill to just above the rim of the pumpkin body with the mushroom cream mixture (it can spill out a little), place lid on top at an angle. Heat in a 350 oven until warm (approximately 5-7 minutes). Serve hot with pumpkin seeds as garnish.

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