This post is sponsored by Mars SEEDS OF CHANGE® and Target.
Create a seasonal side dish that wows in both flavor and appearance with these Sausage, Rice, and Cranberry Stuffed Mini Pumpkins.
Did you know you can use mini pumpkins for cooking? Well you can, and they make the most adorable fall side dish ever. What do you think?
This idea popped into my head after my friends over at SEEDS OF CHANGE® approached me about creating a seasonal recipe using their super tasty and Ready-to-Heat Rice. With plenty of mini pumpkins already on hand, I thought about what delicious combination of flavors to stuff inside them. Sausage, sweet onion, mushrooms, pecans, cranberries, kale, Parmigiano-Reggiano, seasonal spices, and of course, rice came together for a flavor combination that’s quintessentially fall.
Now stuff all of that goodness into a mini pumpkin, and what’s not to love?
While combining all of these flavors is bound to be delicious, this dish also wins on presentation. Who knew roasted mini pumpkins could look so tasty?
With a sharp knife, the tops of these mini pumpkins come off easily. I cut about 1/3 of the way down from the top.
Once you scoop out the seeds (which you can save for roasting), there’s plenty of room in these guys for stuffing. I decided to heap them with stuffing to get as much in there as I could.
The particular combination of flavors in this stuffing makes it especially good. With sweetness from the cranberries, crunch from the pecans, green color from the kale, and seasonal spices such as thyme and nutmeg, it’s the perfect savory complement to an autumn meal.
And don’t forget the pumpkin; you can eat that too. There’s not much in there, but it’s just enough to enjoy with the stuffing. Honestly, it’s almost a meal in itself.
Okay, enough pumpkin talk. Let me show you how to make them.
Here's what you will need:
8-10 mini pumpkins
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground pork sausage
3/4 cup sweet onion, chopped
1 cup crimini mushrooms, roughly chopped
1/2 cup apple cider
1 cup raw pecans, chopped
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
1 package Seeds of Change Quinoa, Brown and Red Rice
1 cup kale leaves, chopped
1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, shredded
Begin by preheating your oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.
Slice the tops off the mini pumpkins and scoop out the seeds. Rub the pumpkins and tops with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the pumpkins (with their tops on) on the prepared baking sheet. Roast for 15-20 minutes or until the pumpkins are just tender.
Meanwhile, add a tablespoon of olive oil to a medium skillet on medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook it well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Drain off the grease and set the sausage aside.
In the same pan, add the onions and mushrooms. Cook until tender. Add the apple cider to the pan. Deglaze the pan by scraping the bottom with a wood spoon. Then add the pecans, nutmeg, and thyme. Cook until the liquid is slightly reduced (4-5 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside.
Microwave the Seeds of Change Quinoa, Brown and Red Rice according to the package directions.
In a large bowl, combine the sausage, onion, mushrooms, dried cranberries, rice, kale, and 3/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Transfer the pumpkin bottoms to a large cast-iron pan. Set the tops aside.
Stuff the pumpkins with the sausage, rice, and cranberry mixture. Heap the mixture on top of each pumpkin. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the pumpkins are soft and the stuffing is heated through.
Serve hot and place the pumpkin tops* back on the pumpkins.
*The tops can be warmed up on the same baking sheet by placing them in the oven for a few minutes before serving. They are mostly decorative.
I can’t get over how adorable these stuffed mini pumpkins are. I’m in love.
I gave a few of them to my mom and grandma to enjoy for dinner, and they gave the pumpkins rave reviews. “Delicious! Very savory with the perfect seasonings.”
If you do give this recipe a try (which you totally should), be sure to pick up some SEEDS OF CHANGE® certified organic food products at Target. You can save 10% with Target Cartwheel. You can find more details on that offer by clicking here. Who doesn’t love saving?