Cheddar-Stuffed Baby Pumpkin

The holidays are the time to go totally over the top with food, and this appetizer is exactly that. A baby pumpkin, crammed full of melty cheddar, crunchy walnuts, sweet cranberries, and fall herbs is the best kind of cozy fall food.

Yes, I stuffed a pumpkin with cheese. But don't worry, it's a small pumpkin! I was just feeling the need to create something super comforting and indulgent.

I spent weeks dreaming of this, ever since I found the most adorable baby pumpkins at the Burlington farmers market. I thought about a more classic stuffed squash approach, maybe with rice and fall veggies, but these pumpkins were begging for something special. Enter the cheddar-stuffed pumpkin, which should absolutely make an appearance at your next fall get-together, on your gameday spread, and especially as a Thanksgiving appetizer.

Each element of the stuffing has a specific purpose. The cheese, of course, is the star of the show and provides melty, salty, indulgent goodness. The walnuts, which actually make up about half the filling, provide much-needed crunch and help the cheese keep its shape in the pumpkin. Cranberries provide sweetness and Thanksgiving flair, and fall herbs round it all out with some earthiness.

Below, you'll see that I don't give you much help in the way of measurements. I'm sorry! I just worry that the size of your pumpkin may vary widely, so the best thing you can do is try to estimate and mix up the right amount of stuffing.

In terms of ratios, I like about 1:1 cheese to walnuts; it helps give the filling structure, and keeps it from being overly heavy. For a baby pumpkin like the one shown here, I suggest about two thirds of a standard block of cheddar, a heaping cup or cup and a half of walnuts, a big handful of cranberries, one sprig of sage, and two or three sprigs of thyme.

If in doubt, over-estimate! As you stuff the roasted pumpkin, the cheese will melt, meaning that it will lose the air space that was there when it was shredded. This will lead to having a lot less filling than you thought you did. So instead, make more than you think you need, and use any leftovers as an awesome salad topping.

Serve this pumpkin with anything on which you want to smear some gooey cheese! We loved it with seedy bread and local apple butter on a chilly Saturday evening, but anything fall-inspired would be divine here. Maybe some whole-grain crackers? Or super crusty baguette? I'd choose something pretty hearty that can stand up to the cheese.

Sometimes we all deserve something totally decadent. If you're having that sort of day, then this Cheddar-Stuffed Baby Pumpkin is for you!

Please share your creation so I can see how you've interpreted the concept! Tag "The Rogue Brussel Sprout" on Facebook or hashtag #theroguebrusselsprout on Instagram.

If you're looking for cozy fall appetizers that are as delicious as they are pretty, then I think you'll like this Roasted Pumpkin and Za'atar Hummus that's stuffed inside a roasted pumpkin!

Thoughts About Ingredients
(These are all just suggestions, since rogue is more fun than recipe)
  • Baby pumpkin(s). I've been able to find some that are only 3-4 inches in diamteter, or about the size of a softball. That made for a hefty appetizer for two people. If you're looking to serve more, you could use a few baby pumpkins or the smallest pie pumpkin you can find.
  • Oil of choice 
  • Sharp cheddar cheese. Whole block(s), not the pre-shredded kind!
  • Walnuts
  • Dried cranberries
  • Sprig of sage
  • Few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Other items to serve it with. Above, I show seedy bread and apple butter, which is a divine combination. But anything will work; crusty bread, crackers, veggies, etc. Just keep in mind that the cheese will be soft and gooey, so I'd recommend something that can stand up to that.
Thoughts About Method
(These are all just suggestions, be creative and make it yours)
  1. Preheat the oven to 425.
  2. Cut the top off the pumpkin, as if you were going to carve it. Make sure you have a big enough hole so that you can easily stuff it, but no bigger (see photos above).
  3. Roast the pumpkin on an oiled sheet tray for 20-50 minutes until tender but not soft. Keep a close eye on it, since the roasting time will depend heavily on the size of the pumpkin you're working with. Be careful not to over-cook the pumpkin, otherwise it will collapse when you stuff it.
  4. Meanwhile, try to estimate how much filling you're going to need. I've found this to be easiest if I pick a bowl that's about the same size as the pumpkin, then work to fill the bowl. Note that the cheese will become more compact when it melts, so over-estimate.
  5. Fill almost half the bowl with shredded cheddar.
  6. Fill almost the other half with chopped walnuts.
  7. Finely dice a big handful or two of dried cranberries and add those to your cheese and nut mixture.
  8. Dice the sage very finely! No one wants a giant mouthful of sage. Add your finely diced leaves to the cheese.
  9. Remove the thyme leaves from the stalk and add those as well.
  10. Add some freshly ground black pepper and give it all a good mix.
  11. When the pumpkin is done roasting, remove it from the oven and stuff it right away. This will melt the cheese! Make sure to cram it full of as much stuffing as you can possibly fit, since the cheese will melt and take up less space than the shreds did originally.
  12. Hint: if your cheese hasn't melted fully, pop the whole pumpkin into the microwave. It won't need long! Keep a close eye on it so that you don't create a cheese volcano.
  13. Carefully move the pumpkin onto whatever you plan to serve it on (I suggest a cutting board, since you'll need to use a knife to get into it).
  14. Add your accompaniments and serve it up!


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