Dinner in a Pumpkin is a hearty casserole cooked right inside a pumpkin! I’ve served it many times on Halloween night before the kids go trick or treating.
Dinner in a Pumpkin is a warm, hearty meal with the delicious flavors of fall. I always hope it will fill my kids tummies before trick-or-treating and prevent them from eating too much candy. One can always hope!
The best part of this dinner is that the pumpkin cooks along with the casserole inside. Before serving the casserole, you scoop chunks of pumpkin from the inside and stir it into the casserole. The pumpkin is sweet and tender, similar to butternut squash, and it adds color and the sweet taste of pumpkin to the dish.
Did you know there are many health benefits to eating pumpkin? Just 1/2 cup of pumpkin provides 100% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin A which aids vision. Pumpkin is a rich source of the antioxidant beta carotene, and 1 cup of pumpkin has more potassium than a banana! See more benefits from eating pumpkin below the recipe.
Pumpkin seeds are also good for you, so don’t throw away the seeds when you clean out your pumpkin! You can turn them into a yummy treat as well – a treat that is much healthier to snack on than candy. Pumpkin seeds are packed with magnesium, protein, zinc, and copper. You can toss them with butter and salt and roast them in the oven, or for more flavor you can season them. This Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds recipe is my favorite!
If I haven’t convinced you to make this hearty and delicious dinner for your family yet, I’ll throw in one more benefit – the clean up is super easy. Instead of having to scrub a casserole dish, you get to throw it away!
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Line a baking sheet with foil.
- Thoroughly wash and dry the outside of the pumpkin.
- Cut the top off the pumpkin and clean out the pulp and seeds. Place the pumpkin on the baking sheet. Save the top.
- In a large skillet, sauté onion and mushrooms in oil or butter. Add ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Drain the grease from the beef. Add salt, pepper, and water chestnuts.
- In a large bowl, mix soup, brown sugar, and soy sauce. Add ground beef mixture and cooked rice.
- Empty bowl into the cleaned out pumpkin and replace pumpkin top.
- Bake for 1 hour on the lower rack of the oven, or on the rack where the pumpkin can be most centered in the oven.
- After 1 hour, remove the top and check the sides of the pumpkin for doneness. The outside of the pumpkin will turn a dark orange, and the inside of the pumpkin should be tender and easily scoop off the sides with a spoon. If the inside of the pumpkin is still not fully cooked, bake for an additional 10-15 minutes. The cooking time will vary depending on the size of the pumpkin. Sometimes I've cooked the pumpkin as long as an hour and a half before it is ready. Using hot pads, place the pumpkin onto a serving plate, remove the lid, and stir. Be sure to scoop off chunks of cooked pumpkin into the casserole as it is served. That's the best part!
Health Benefits of Pumpkin
There truly are great health benefits that come from eating pumpkin – and this Dinner in a Pumpkin recipe uses pumpkin right from the source. Pumpkin can be used in a lot of different recipes. My favorite pumpkin recipes are desserts, of course, but pumpkin is also very good in soups and casseroles. A couple of my favorite pumpkin desserts are Pumpkin Cobbler and Pumpkin Poke Cake. Pumpkin has a squash-like taste and texture, and adds a lot of flavor to recipes. It’s worth giving it a try to get the boost of vitamins and antioxidants pumpkin provides. Here are just a few of the health benefits of eating pumpkin:
- Better Eyesight – One cup of cooked pumpkin contains more than 200% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin A. Vitamin A aids vision, especially vision in dim lighting.
- Weight Loss – One cup of cooked pumpkin has 3 grams of fiber and only 49 calories! This makes you feel a little better when you eat that slice of pumpkin pie, right? Fiber makes you feel fuller longer, so you eat less.
- Possible cancer and wrinkle prevention – Like carrots, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash, pumpkin is loaded with beta-carotene. According to the National Cancer Institute, beta-carotene may play a role in cancer prevention. Health Magazine also reported that the carotenoids in pumpkins can also help keep skin wrinkle-free.
- Energy – Pumpkin contains more potassium than bananas! Potassium restores electrolyte balance after a workout and keeps muscles functioning at their best.