Bake this cheesy, savory bread pudding, with sweet apples inside a WHOLE pumpkin: Whole Pumpkin Cheddar Gratin!
I asked myself, “Self, what’s the worst that could happen if I threw my whole pumpkin – uncut into the oven?”
“Maybe, I’d be out the $3.00 I spent at the pumpkin farm?”
“Or maybe it would explode in my oven, covering the oven with slimy seeds and pumpkin ‘guts’?”
So I did it. I opened the oven door and stuck the entire pumpkin, uncut, stem-and-all in and closed the door!
When I opened the oven door 1 hour and 20 minutes later, nothing had exploded. And nothing covered the insides of the oven walls. The stem was not black and neither was the pumpkin flesh.
Instead, when I cut open the top and pulled up the ‘lid’ still stuck with seeds, the inside revealed a perfect evenly cooked interior. And the outside was a deep golden orange that would be a gorgeous serving vessel.
Now, this little experiment was not entered into without some prior research. I consulted a few cookbooks for pumpkin soups served in the pumpkin shell. Nothing.
Searching online for any “recipe in pumpkin shell” yielded a few recipes similar to this delicious-looking whole pumpkin apple casserole. But I wanted something savory and cheesy like a gratin or strata. I did find this amazing-looking Pumpkin and Cabot Habanero Cheddar Soufflés recipe to add to my To-Try file. But no whole-pumpkin strata.
In the end, it was the Cabot recipe that gave me a hint that cooking a whole pumpkin might not burn down the house – but I wasn’t positive since the soufflé recipe uses mini pumpkins and my sugar pumpkin was a whopping 11 inches in diameter!
Once my pumpkin was cooked, I created a cheesy, savory gratin with a celery and a little sweet apple. It’s a bit like Thanksgiving stuffing, only waaay better!Print
Whole Pumpkin Cheddar Gratin
Bake a cheesy, savory bread pudding, with sweet apples inside a WHOLE pumpkin.
- 1 large sugar pumpkin
- 6 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, grated (about 1 1/2 cups) I used Cabot
- 2 cups fresh bread cubes (about 4 slices firm white Italian bread, 1/2-inch cube)
- 1 1/2 tablespoon canola oil
- 2 cups chopped onions
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 large apple, peeled, cored, chopped
- 1–1 1/2 cup chicken broth, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crumbled
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Place uncut pumpkin in large shallow dish and add 1/4 inch of water; cover the whole dish tightly as best you can with foil and bake for 1 hour 20 minutes, or until just tender. Let cool. Then cut off ‘lid’ and scrape out pumpkin seeds. Cut and scrape pumpkin meat from inside of shell leaving at least 1/4 inch shell. Chop pumpkin meat into bite-sized pieces. Place pumpkin shell in the refrigerator to chill while completing remainder of recipe.
- Mix together cheese and breadcrumbs; set aside.
- In large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add onions and sugar. Stir often until onions are golden, about 10 minutes. Stir in apple, 1/2 cup chicken broth, salt, thyme, and pepper, saute until apple is tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add chopped pumpkin, about 1 1/2 cup bread-cubes mixture and 1/2 cup broth; cook, stirring until thoroughly heated through.
- Transfer mixture into cold pumpkin shell and pour 1/2 cup broth over mixture. Sprinkle remaining bread crumb mixture over top of pumpkin mixture. Cover entire top of pumpkin with foil. Place pumpkin on metal baking sheet (not stoneware! I cracked mine in the heat!) Bake in preheated 350°F oven for 20-25 minutes until heated through. Remove foil and broil until breadcrumbs are golden (being careful not to burn pumpkin shell.) Serve in pumpkin shell.