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Vegan Thanksgiving: Pumpkin Stuffed Vegetable Stew

November 27, 2010

I’ve mentioned before that back when I was an intern at Gourmet I used to pull recipes that I wanted to try out. By the end of the summer I had an entire folder full of printouts, but the one on the top of my wish list, the one I really never imagined actually making, but would dream about on rainy days (too dramatic?) was this one. I’ll admit, at first I was nervous about the 7 hour time commitment, (which Jesse Wegman argues is probably a bit more,) but I realized that making the sauce was the biggest time commitment and most of the 7 hours were not active time, meaning I could spend about 5 of those hours making the rest of my Thanksgiving dishes.

And that’s how I ended up making the most epic vegan Thanksgiving centerpiece ever — one that doesn’t even remotely resemble a turkey. Because we were only four people AND because it’s surprisingly difficult to find large pumpkins 3 weeks after Halloween, I adapted the recipe a bit — making about 2/3 of the initial recipe (using a 6.5 lb pumpkin instead of a 9 lb) and still had a ton of leftover broth and stew. The broth was great, because I ended up using it for the soup, but I would recommend making a bit less stew.

I am a HUGE fan of store bought vegetable broth (as of today I’ve only made broth twice, once last year and once for this recipe) — while I enjoy the process of making the broth it is insanely time consuming and I always feel extremely guilty about the vegetables after I extract all the broth. Still, when it came to this recipe I figured go big or go home, so with that in mind here goes:

Pumpkin Stuffed Vegetable Stew

Part 1: Roasted-Vegetable and Wine Sauce (This is basically stock thickened with roux — if you don’t have the luxury of making a vegetable stock you can simply use pre-made vegetable stock and if you feel like thickening it follow steps at the end.) Because I simply followed the recipe as it appears on I’m not going to include it here — I ‘ll just include my photos. I substituted Earth Balance for butter to make it vegan.

Part 2: Pumpkin and Stew

1 fennel bulb with fronds
2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 lb celery root, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
7 shallots quartered, plus 1/2 cup chopped
3 tbs olive oil, divided
2 red bell peppers cut into 1-inch strips
1 6.5 lb pumpkin
Roasted-vegetable and wine sauce, heated
3 tablespoons Earth Balance vegan butter
1/2 lb fresh cremini mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
1/4 lb fresh shitake mushrooms, quartered
1 lb seitan, cut into 1/2-inch pieces [I made my own, but you can easily use store bought]
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, divided
1 tbs chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in middle — or even the bottom if you have a small oven — you want to make sure that the pumpkin will be able to fit inside!

Chop enough fennel fronds to measure 1 tbs and reserve, then discard stalks and remaining fronds. Halve bulb lengthwise and cut into 1-inch wedges. Toss fennel wedges, parsnips, celery root, carrots, red peppers, and shallots with 2 tbs oil, salt, and pepper in a baking pan until coated, then roast, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and almost tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove vegetables from oven but leave oven on.

While vegetable are roasting, remove top of pumpkin by cutting a circle around stem. Because I don’t celebrate Halloween and have never made a jack-o’-lantern I never really understood the artform of pumpkin carving. Just to backtrack a bit. I had a bit of difficulty finding a large pumpkin but was told that most farms sell them — I didn’t have time to go check them out this time, but next time I think that’s what I’ll do — eventually I found this one at Whole Foods on the upper west side in New York. The one by me in New Jersey only had 1 lb pumpkins.

Cutting off the top of the pumpkin is actually a lot more difficult than it seems. I asked my brother to help:

The serrated knife worked best. Once the top is off, scrape out and discard seeds and any loose fibers from inside pumpkin with a spoon but do not discard top. The string can get really annoying, so I found it easier to scrape out part of the flesh with the seeds. Once the inside is COMPLETELY clean,

sprinkle flesh with salt and pepper and put pumpkin in a large roasting pan. Pour 1 cup of the sauce into the pumpkin and cover with the top, then brush all over with remaining tablespoon oil. Roast 1 hour.

While pumpkin roasts, heat vegan butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat, then sauté chopped shallots until slightly brown. Add mushrooms and sauté until they are browned and begin to give off liquid, about 8 minutes. Add seitan and 1/2 tsp thyme, then stir in 1 1/2 cups more sauce and bring to a simmer.

Remove from heat and fold in roasted root vegetables, add salt and pepper to taste.

After pumpkin has roasted 1 hour, spoon stew filling into it, then cover with top. Roast pumpkin for another 30 minutes. VERY CAREFULLY transfer pumpkin to a platter. I found the best method was simply using a kitchen towel and picking it up… but feel free to try using two spatulas.

Stir together fennel fronds, parsley, zest, and remaining 1/2 tsp thyme and sprinkle half of it over filling. Stir remainder into remaining sauce and serve “gravy” on the side.

Because I had a bit of extra stew and a 1 lb pumpkin, I may have made my 3 month old nephew a mini pumpkin stew:

It gets better — the leftovers are just as good. I ended up cutting the pumpkin into bite size pieces (leaving the skin on to preserve moisture — or as my dad says making it easier to eat with your fingers) and mixing it with the extra stew:

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 5, 2010 11:44 am

    I have never made a pumpkin bowl (hollowed it out and put something inside it) but the photo of your finished product looks perfect!!! You did a wonderful job and it also looks so so tasty!!!

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