You don’t have to be Martha Stewart to know how easy it is to make a holiday centerpiece out of mini-pumpkins. Just toss a few in the middle of the table, weave in a string of fairy lights and voilà! Your dinner table has just gotten a little more fabulous.
If your interest in those miniature winter squashes stops there, though, you’re missing the opportunity to make the dinner at that lovely table a little more delicious.
Often referred to as Jack-Be-Little pumpkins, these babies usually come in either orange or white. I look forward to their return to my produce section every year because they make a perfect little package I can set on each diner’s plate, just waiting to be opened and eaten.
I usually don’t do much to them and preparing them is surprisingly quick and easy. A paring knife is all you’ll need to cut their tops off (much like you would a Jack-o’-lantern). Once they’re opened, a small spoon can be used to scrape out the seeds and strings.
Simply seasoned with salt and pepper, dotted with butter and popped into the oven, these sweet, tender little squashes can be done in about 30 minutes. While they make the world’s easiest and most adorable side dish, sometimes I like to take them to the next level by stuffing them, as I’ve done in this recipe for Bacon, Cheese and Spinach-Stuffed Mini-Pumpkins.
For this recipe, the pumpkins are partially baked and cooled slightly. A rich custard is made with goat cheese, cream cheese, cream, an egg and spices. Cubed bread, crispy bacon and sautéed baby spinach are added, along with more cheese, in this case Gruyère and Parmesan. The indulgent mixture is stuffed inside the pumpkins which continue to bake until golden and gooey.
While they make a satisfying light main dish, served with a crispy green salad, they aren’t too heavy to be served alongside a roast turkey. This recipe can be easily doubled, and a large platter of these stuffed baby pumpkins is sure to impress everyone at your holiday dinner table.
Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at email@example.com. Follow her on Instagram at @meredithdeeds.