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Kale, Cranberry + Walnut Stuffing (stuffed in a pumpkin!)

I’ve got something to tell you.

I am OBSESSED with stuffing.

Oh my goodness do I love it.

When I tell people that I don’t eat turkey on Thanksgiving, I often get the response, “If you don’t eat turkey, then what do you eat?”

I eat stuffing. Lots and lots of stuffing. 

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I’m not sure when exactly this obsession started, but I’m glad it did. Stuffing makes me so happy. I even “liked” stuffing on Facebook. I’m not sure why you can do that (or how I discovered that you could), but I did. And every year around Thanksgiving, “Stuffing” begins to post on Facebook. And I secretly love it!

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I think my mom makes the best stuffing. It’s very simple and very classic, but so delicious. It has the perfect flavor. And it is so moist. It doesn’t need gravy, although I put gravy on it anyway because I also love gravy. 

And while I love and wouldn’t want to go without my mom’s amazing, classic stuffing, it is fun to experiment with it a bit, too. As far as I’m concerned, the more stuffing, the better. 🙂

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The story behind this kale, cranberry + walnut stuffing:

When I came home from Florida last week, a beautiful pumpkin was sitting on the table waiting just for me (and flowers, too!). Greg picked out the pumpkin for me at the farmers market when I was away. He said he talked to a woman about stuffing the pumpkin, and thought that I would love the idea. He knows me too well – there is nothing I would rather do this time of the year than stuff a pumpkin with stuffing! 

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I bought some multigrain bread (my favorite) and then searched my fridge and pantry for the perfect add-ins for the stuffing. I love the classic flavor combo of fresh garlic, shallots, carrots and celery so I thought that would be my base. I added baby kale because I am obsessed with adding it to everything lately. To the bread, I added dried cranberries and walnuts, just because I thought it would work. I spiced it up with plenty of dried thyme, sage, nutmeg, salt, pepper and some fresh rosemary. I used fresh rosemary because I love the flavor of fresh over dried and I know that I will use the entire package when I buy it. The only binding ingredient in this stuffing is chicken broth (use veggie broth to make it completely vegetarian!). I didn’t want to add egg, so I tried just the broth and it worked perfectly as a binder.

And just a note: stuffing doesn’t have to be wildly unhealthy to be delicious! This stuffing has only 2 tablespoons of butter in the entire thing. I used multigrain bread, nuts, dried fruit and a ton of veggies. I’m not saying it’s a health food, but you don’t have to feel guilty about indulging in this!

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My origianl plan was to cut the pumpkin top off, jack-o-lantern style. Just as if I were carving the pumpkin. But, this pumpkins skin was very thick and hard to cut through. I tried but decided I just couldn’t do it. I decided to cut the pumpkin in half, take the seeds out and stuff some stuffing into each side. It worked very well, and I think that anyway you can cut your pumpkin would work, too. 

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The flavor of this stuffing is amazing. It is everything I hoped for. The cranberries and walnuts add great texture. It is perfectly moist. Greg and I agreed that gravy is not necessary for it. 

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And the pumpkin presentation is fun and cool. I think that it would be a fun dish to take to a family or friend Thanksgiving get-together. And as far the the pumpkin flesh, it can be scraped out and eaten with the stuffing, or scraped out and used for another recipe. Don’t let that pumpkin go to waste!

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So, what do you think? Will you stuff some stuffing into a pumpkin this season? Even if you have a traditional stuffing recipe, I encourage you to give this one a try too. It’s fun, delicious and like I said above, there can never be too much stuffing. 🙂 Enjoy!

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Kale, Cranberry + Walnut Stuffing
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Ingredients
  1. 5 cups multigrain bread, cut into cubes
  2. 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  3. 1/2 cup walnuts
  4. 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  5. 1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
  6. 1/2 tablespoon dried sage
  7. Pinch of nutmeg
  8. Salt and pepper
  9. 1 tablespoon butter
  10. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  11. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  12. 8 small shallots, sliced
  13. 2 medium carrots, diced
  14. 3 celery stalks, diced
  15. 2 ounces baby kale
  16. 2 cup chicken broth (or vegetable broth to make it vegetarian!)
  17. 1 large baking pumpkin
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400*.
  2. Prep your pumpkin. Do what seems to work best. You could cut it as if you were carving a pumpkin, or like me, cut the pumpkin in half. Clean out the pumpkin seeds.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the cubed bread, dried cranberries, walnuts, rosemary, thyme, sage, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  4. In a skillet over medium heat, heat the butter and olive oil. Once hot, add the minced garlic and shallots. Cook several minutes, until shallots soften.
  5. Add the carrots and celery and cook several more minutes, until veggies begin to become tender. Once tender, add the baby kale and cook, stirring until kale is wilted.
  6. Add the cooked veggies to the bread combo. Add the chicken broth and stir, until well combined and all bread is wet.
  7. Stuff the stuffing into the hollow, cleaned out pumpkin. Place the pumpkin in a baking dish and bake in the preheated oven for 1-1.5 hours, or until stuffing is cooked through and the pumpkin flesh is fork tender.
The Dreaming Foodie http://www.thedreamingfoodie.com/

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