This brown rice and pecan stuffed pumpkin recipe is vegan, gluten-free, and makes the ideal Thanksgiving centrepiece! Can be made nut-free too.
(Originally published September 2019. Updated October 2020.)
It’s that time of year! Every year Autumn comes around so fast (do I sound like a broken record?!) and with it comes Thanksgiving. But more importantly, Thanksgiving food!
Traditionally a challenging time for vegans, nowadays there is no shortage of decadent delights available (Tofurky Veggie Roast anyone?). If however like me you prefer to eat gluten-free and want to make your own Holiday dishes, I have a beautiful recipe for you here – my delicious vegan Stuffed Pumpkin.
I’m particularly proud of this recipe as it’s a nod to my adopted home country of Canada. Being English, I didn’t grow up eating Thanksgiving food (we don’t celebrate the holiday). As a result, things like pumpkin pies and yam mash were a little alien to me!
Since I’ve lived here, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed eating my fill of pumpkins and pecan pie, and it makes me so happy now to be able to share a Holiday recipe of my own.
Vegan Stuffed Pumpkin – The Recipe
This Stuffed Pumpkin is totally vegan and gluten-free, and is the perfect table centrepiece for your holiday feast. It’s not difficult to make, but it’s sure to add the wow factor and a splash of colour to any meal.
The pecans give it a delicious crunch, the brown rice makes it hearty and the cranberries provide a gorgeous splash of colour. Make this dish for your vegan Thanksgiving dinner if you want to visually impress your guests!
(P.S. I’ve got more vegan Thanksgiving and Holiday recipes on the blog – you can find them all here.)
A Note on Ingredients
Stuffed Pumpkin Size
It goes without saying that if your pumpkin is larger than 5-inches wide, you’ll need more of the filling mixture. Be sure to add extra herbs and seasonings if this is the case, as it’s easy to scale up the other ingredients but forget to increase the salt and pepper etc. You don’t want a bland filling mixture!
If your pumpkin is smaller, you can make stuffing balls from any leftover filling. Just be aware that a smaller pumpkin may not feed so many people.
For a nut-free option, you’re welcome to use pumpkin or sunflower seeds instead.
Likewise, if cranberries are unavailable, feel free to use raisins or apricots. They won’t have quite the same traditional Thanksgiving appeal but they’ll still be delicious.
Vegan Stuffed Pumpkin (vegan & gluten-free)
- 1 small to medium-sized pumpkin (about 5 inches wide and 2½lb in weight)
- ⅓ cup short or long grain brown rice
- ¾ cup pecans
- 2 tbsp olive oil (plus a little more to brush the inside and outside of the pumpkin)
- ½ stick celery, finely diced (about ⅔ cup)
- 1 small onion, finely diced (about ⅔ cup)
- 3 large cloves garlic, crushed
- ½ tbsp dried rosemary, finely ground
- 1 tbsp dried sage, finely ground
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ tsp onion powder
- 2 tbsp water
- Sea salt to taste (I usually use about 1-1½ tsp)
- ½ tsp black pepper
- Cut the lid off your pumpkin and scoop out the insides, leaving a large hollow cavity. Set aside.
- Cook the rice as per package instructions. When cooked, drain and set aside.
- While the rice is cooking, place the pecans in a skillet and toast them on the stovetop on a medium-low heat for about 10 minutes.
- Place in a blender or food processor and blend for 6-8 seconds, until pecans are broken into small pieces. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan or skillet, add 1 tbsp of oil, plus the celery and onion, and sauté the mixture on a medium heat for 6-8 minutes, stirring frequently (or until onion is translucent).
- Add the garlic and sauté for a further 2 minutes.
- When the rice is cooked add it, along with the rosemary, sage, cranberries, pecans, onion powder, remaining oil, water, salt and black pepper to the pan. Gently cook the mixture for a further 10 minutes (stirring frequently). It should be fairly crumbly by this point. Adjust the seasoning if needed and remove from the heat.
- Preheat the oven to 400°CF/205°C.
- Brush the inside and outside of the pumpkin with olive oil, and season the inside well with salt and pepper.
- Spoon the filling mixture into the pumpkin - packing it fairly tightly - and place the lid on top.
- Wrap the pumpkin completely in a layer of aluminium foil and place on a baking tray. Bake in the oven for 1 hour.
- Remove the foil and bake the pumpkin, uncovered, for a further 10 minutes. The pumpkin is ready when you can easily push a knife into the skin.
- Remove it from the oven and serve cut into four wedges with your favourite seasonal greens, mashed potatoes and if you wish, gravy.
- For a nut-free version, feel free to replace the pecans with sunflower or pumpkin seeds.