Halloween Recipe – Bolognese Stuffed Pumpkin

It’s Halloween, and while in most households families get busy carving and emptying pumpkins, we decided to stuff ours! This time, with very typical Italian flavours: we stuffed it with Bolognese sauce, probably the most famous pasta sauce in the world. Since the traditional recipe for Bolognese is very time consuming, we make a big batch so we can save several portions in the freezer. Keep that in mind if you try this recipe, and adjust the quantity of the ingredients according to the amount of meat you will be using. Also, take into consideration that the sauce takes three and a half hours, so we suggest you prepare it the day before you decide to stuff your Halloween pumpkin with it.

For the Bolognese:

3kg fresh tomatoes
1kg minced meat
3 garlic cloves
1 onion
2 small carrots (or 1 medium one)
1 celery stalk
300 ml white wine (I didn’t have any so I went for red)
2 bay leaves
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp oregano
1 slice of pancetta or chorizo (optional)
salt & pepper

For the Pumpkin (serves 4):
1 medium size pumpkin
some grated mozzarella cheese (the hard type usually used for pizza)

Step 1 – Make a tomato passata like you saw in our Classic Tomato Sauce recipe.

Step 2 – Chop the onion, carrot, celery and garlic very finely. If you have it, help yourself with a mezzaluna so that your soffritto will be super thin. As an option, you can add a thin slice of pancetta or chorizo to your soffritto, chopped as finely as the rest of your base ingredients.

Step 3 – In a wide sauce pan, heat up some extra virgin olive oil and fry gently your soffritto base until it’s golden and soft.

Step 4 – Add the meat to the pan and let it fry, so it gets some colour. Keep frying and stirring gently, until the bottom of the pan is dry of all juices.

Step 5 – Add the wine and keep frying until the bottom of the pan is dry again.

Step 6 – At this point, you can add the tomato passata. Add a teaspoon of salt, the herbs (if you are using any) and bring to boiling point. Once it starts boiling, turn the heat down to the minimum (move the pan to a smaller hob if necessary), cover with a lid and let it cook, checking and stirring it every now and then, over three hours. As this was made with fresh tomatoes, its texture is very watery, so I let it reduce throughout the whole cooking time without adding any water. If you decide to use the passata they sell at the stores, you can use a lot less, and simply add water first after the first hour, and then after the second hour of cooking, as they suggest in this Giallo Zafferano recipe.

Step 7 – Once the three hours have passed, you should have a very reduced, thick and meaty sauce. Add salt, if needed, turn the heat off and get the tapperware ready. As well as for this recipe, you can use Bolognese with your favourite dry pasta, you can use it to make lasagna, or serve it with home made tagliatelle.

Step 8 – Cut a lid off the pumpkin, and with a spoon carve out all the seeds and the fibres.

Step 9 – Stuff the pumpkin with the Bolognese sauce and add some grated mozzarella on the top. Put the lid back on and place the pumpkin in the hot oven at 180º (160º if using a fan oven) for 50 minutes to one hour. To check that it’s cooked, cut the inside of the pumpkin with a knife – it should cut through easily. Serve warm, letting diners help themselves to some extra grated mozzarella.


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