The roasted pumpkin can be used for sweet or savory dishes.
Here's a key tool for cooking for picky eaters — learn to improvise. Part of that is using flavors that go well together.
We usually make pumpkin pie from scratch. We like our pies zesty, so we reduce the amount of sugar called for and add more cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and coriander. Sometimes we bump up the vanilla. Sometimes we add rum flavoring.
But we don't make savory pumpkins very often. So when I ran across several recipes for stuffed pumpkin, I was intrigued. One French farm recipe used bread, pork and cheese. Another recipe added brussels sprouts. I was happy to improvise and explore.
Because my family avoids bread and gluten, I substituted brown rice for the French bread. I added more bacon, garlic and onion than the recipe called for. I made two versions — a more savory recipe with cheese, bacon, heavy cream, thyme and oregano; the other with sausage, bacon and extra nutmeg. Both turned out well.
Pumpkin stuffed with bacon and cheese
1 medium pumpkin, about 3 pounds
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups cooked rice (see cook's note)
2 to 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
4 strips bacon, cooked until crisp, drained and chopped (see cook's note)
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Oil a baking sheet or line sheet with parchment.
Using a very sturdy knife, carefully cut a cap in the top of the pumpkin, just like you would for a jack-o'-lantern, with the knife at a 45 degree angle. Cut off a large-enough top to make it easy to work inside the pumpkin.