PUMPKIN-THE NATURAL SERVING DISH
Since the Holidays are coming up, I am always looking for ideas to make my festivities memorable for my guests. One way to do this is to have unique dinner settings and decorations. One of my most versatile “secret holiday decoration weapons” is the PUMPKIN- as a serving dish. I can use it for soup like my PUMPKIN SAGE SOUP or drier items like my CORNBREAD AND WILD RICE STUFFING,;I have even used it as a vase for my flower arrangements. I have also done this technique with mini pumpkins, that hold only a single serving of whatever item I am serving. My guests ALWAYS love these and talk about them long after we all try to be creative with the abundance of leftovers from the feast we had… Your creativity is your only limit!
You will need correct amount and size of your choice of organic pumpkins. Be sure to pick ones that are bright colored, firm with no soft spots or large blemishes, firm stem and stand upright (not leaning to one side or the other).
For ONE serving dish for family style (up to an 8 guest portion to be served), use a 5 to 6 pound organic baking pumpkin (see preparation instructions below), multiply in batches but only cook ONE pumpkin serving dish at a time.
For individual single serving mini-pumpkin serving dishes, use small mini pumpkins (same amount as guests you will be serving) NOTE: if you have more than 8 guests, you will need to cook mini pumpkin serving dishes in batches. (the note for cooking the mini pumpkins to follow main article’s body)
To prepare your pumpkin into a serving bowl, first wash it well and scrub off any dirt that is on it. With a sharp knife, gently shallow cut the top of the pumpkin around the stem down into the inside to about 1 inch from the outside edge (as if you were carving the top of a jack-o-lantern) to create your opening for your serving bowl, save the stem piece. With a large spoon, gently scrape the inside of the pumpkin to remove the web and seeds, reserve the seeds for roasted pumpkin seeds. Be sure not to cut into the flesh too deep with the spoon but you want all the seeds and web to be removed. Rinse the pumpkin well.
Place your serving pumpkin into a heated on high heat crock pot standing up with the stem piece on the side of it, place 1/4 cup water into the pumpkin and add 1/4 cup to the bottom of pot. Cover and steam it for 40 minutes on high heat. It will be done when it is bright colored and slightly soft but not mushy, check in on it occasionally to be sure it is not over cooking.
Your serving pumpkin should be ready by now, it will be bright colored and slightly soft but not mushy. Gently remove your serving pumpkin with pot holders and stem piece onto a serving platter. Fill the serving pumpkin with hot soup or other food item you wish to serve in it, arrange on your serving platter , garnish and serve. This will make a beautiful festive addition to any dinner. If you are using it for a vase for a flower arrangement or a cold dish, be sure to allow it to fully cool at room temperature and then refrigerate for 2 hours before filling.
NOTE: You can also do 8 mini single serving sized pumpkins the same way as the larger pumpkin described with in the recipe except only put 2 TBSP. of water into each and 1/2 cup of water into the bottom of the crock pot, and adjust the cooking time of the serving pumpkins accordingly (about 25 minutes).