Chef’s Corner: It’s Finally Fall

Fall is here, and the weather is finally starting to cool down. Neighbors are coming out, people are walking, running, strolling, and everyone seems to be more pleasant and happier these days. With the holidays right around the corner, we are preparing ourselves for families to come together once again. We will be feasting, laughing and making special memories.

This recipe makes for a beautiful centerpiece dish at your next gathering, and it will be admired by all who gather at your table. In this meal, the pumpkin acts as a cooking vessel, serving bowl, and part of the meal itself. Choose a Long Island Cheese pumpkin for its creamy flesh or a Cinderella pumpkin. You can choose a smaller pumpkin like the Baby Bear for each guest – just be sure to roast for a shorter amount of time.

Enjoy the weather and each other while you capture the spirit of the holidays!

Whole Stuffed Roasted Pumpkin

1 Long Island Cheese or Cinderella pumpkin (10- to 12-pounds)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 beef Italian sausages (12 ounces) or vegan sausages, divided
12 ounces of mushrooms, quartered
1 tablespoon non-dairy butter
6 garlic cloves, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 large red onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 ½ cups unsalted chicken stock or vegetarian stock
1 ¾ cups frozen black-eyed peas
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup uncooked farro
½ pound baby red potatoes, quartered
2 large carrots, cut into ½ inch slices
1 can unsalted whole tomatoes (28 ounces)
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut out top of pumpkin, and reserve; remove strings and seeds. Wrap pumpkin in foil; place in a large roasting pan or baking dish.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat; swirl to coat.

Add sausages; cook 6 minutes or until browned on all sides. Remove to a large plate; when cool enough to handle, cut into ½ inch slices.

Increase heat to medium-high, add 1 tablespoon olive oil to pan. Add mushrooms; sauté 7 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to plate with sausage.

Add butter and remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan. Add garlic, celery, and onion; cook 5 minutes. Add cardamom; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add stock, peas, and salt; simmer 10 minutes. Add farro, potatoes and carrots; simmer 20 minutes.

Drain tomatoes in a colander over a bowl. Break up tomatoes with hands, allowing juices to drain. Stir tomatoes, mushrooms, sausage and parsley into stew. Ladle stew into prepared pumpkin. Place pumpkin top next to pumpkin on the pan. Bake at 350°F for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until pumpkin flesh is tender and easily scooped from the sides. Serve stew along with spoonfuls of pumpkin.

Lucia Schnitzer and her husband, Ken, own Pomelo (a full-service restaurant), Luci’s at The Orchard and Splurge (a candy and ice cream shop), all at The Orchard Phx, 7100 N 12th Street, Phoenix. They also own Luci’s Healthy Marketplace, 1590 E Bethany Home Road, Phoenix, which they opened in 2009 in Lucia’s honor after her successful battle with breast cancer.

Photo by Matthew Strauss

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