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Holiday Stuffed Pumpkin

1 unblemished 10" diameter pumpkin with a solid stem attached
2 cups short-grain brown rice or brown basmati rice
1 cup other whole grains (wild rice, barley, millet or wheat berries)
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion and 3/4 cup chopped celery
1 or 2 cups sliced apples
1 sweet red pepper, chopped finely (optional)
1 tsp dried sage (or more to taste) and 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg (optional)
1/4 tsp ground cloves (optional)
1 to 2 cups cooked garbanzos or 1 package of tofu diced finely
1 cup peeled and sliced roasted chestnuts
1/2 cup raisins, sultanas or fresh cranberries
1/2 cup chopped almonds or filberts or pine nuts or butternuts
1/4 c. chopped parsley
1 tsp soy sauce or 3 tbsp frozen concentrated orange juice
black pepper to taste
8 oz extra sharp cheddar, grated (optional)

Preheat oven to 400. Carefully cut the top off the pumpkin with
the knife angled toward the center of the pumpkin so the lid won't
fall in when baked. Clean the seeds and strings out of the center
of the pumpkin (wash seeds and save for toasted pumpkin seeds),
put a couple of tbsps of water into it, oil the cut edges of both
pumpkin and lid, and bake both parts on a baking sheet for about
40 minutes, or until the pumpkin is quite soft when poked with a
fork. While the pumpkin is baking, cook the grains as usual.

Saute the onion until translucent, then add the apples, celery,
chestnuts, herbs and spices, and cook until the apples are just
starting to get soft. (Add a bit of water if needed). Mix in beans
or tofu, raisins, nuts, parsley, soy or orange, and sweet red pepper
and heat gently. Add grains and mix well.

After the pumpkin is baked, stuff with fillings. If using cheese,
layer stuffing and cheese, ending with cheese. Replace lid tightly.
Lower the oven temperature to 350 and bake on a baking sheet for
about 30 more minutes, or longer, until stuffing is hot.

Serve the stuffing with a slice of pumpkin topped with a bit of
maple syrup, cranberry sauce or a fruit chutney.


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