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Russian Stuffed Pumpkin
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Yield: 8 servings. Cut stem end of pumpkin in a circle about 4" in diameter (like when you begin to carve a jack o' lantern). Reserve. Scoop out insides of pumpkin, rinse out and pat dry with paper towels. With a grapefruit knife or melon baller, scoop out as much of the flesh as you can without penetrating the skin. Chop pumpkin flesh and set aside. In large saucepan, bring 3 quarts of salted water to a boil. Add rice and cook, covered, over high heat until almost cooked but still slightly hard to the bite (about 15 minutes). Drain well. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, combine rice, chopped pumpkin, apples, raisins, dried cherries and melted butter. Season with cinnamon, sugar and salt and mix thoroughly. Spoon stuffing loosely into pumpkin, sprinkle with the hot water and close tightly with the reserved "lid". Place pumpkin on a baking sheet and bake until pumpkin is tender when you prick it with the point of a knife, about 2 hours. Cut into wedges and serve. To serve, cut into wedges and serve with the stuffing.
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