This savory stuffed pumpkin with arseniko cheese from Naxos and autumnal herbs is the best thing to say “Oh, fall!”. And truly, there are just so many reasons to love the season—where to even begin?

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.

Albert Camus

For us, autumn is the season to gather friends around the table, cook and play board games, a time to calm down, snuggle up and enjoy togetherness as much as possible. The harvest season is full of flavourful ingredients to use in recipes and an abundance of newly harvested goodies, like pumpkins, sweet potatoes, various nuts, and fresh vegetables! So, creating a stuffed pumpkin recipe was no surprise for us!

While most of us probably associate pumpkins with jack-o’-lanterns and Halloween night, this fruit (which is sometimes mistakenly referred to as a vegetable) goes way beyond the scope of spooky décor. Full of flavor, health benefits, and culinary uses, pumpkin is easy to adore.

The vibrant color of pumpkins (both inside and out) hints at their vitamin-rich nature. Just one cup of cooked pumpkin packs over double of your daily Vitamin A needs, plus a hefty boost of Potassium and Vitamin C. At just under 50 calories per one cup serving, pumpkin gives you several grams of fiber, which keeps you fuller longer. As it turns out, pumpkin might just be the best superfood that you’ve never previously considered!

Used in both savory and sweet dishes, pumpkin is the fruit that will keep on giving and can be used in pies, marmalades, sweet treats, salads – the list is endless! For our stuffed pumpkin recipe, we combined it with minced meat and cheese to create a hearty and warming meal perfect for the season!

Arseniko Cheese

Arseniko is a kind of spicy kefalotyri cheese produced in the traditional way in the pens of Naxos uplands, using sheep’s or goat’s full milk with the addition of whey. After the cheese thickens it is drained in special baskets called tirovola.

Its color is light yellow and in the beginning, it tastes sweet but after a few weeks, it becomes spicy. A hard, slightly crumbly cheese, it has a piquant but sweet flavour and long finish. Since February 2020, arseniko cheese, yet another iconic, traditional Greek product is added to the European Commission‘s list of ”Protected Geographical Indication” (PGI) foods! Yay for traditional greek products!

But…enough with the preface! Shall we tell you the recipe?

Ingredients you will need

  • 1 medium pumpkin (1-0.5 KG)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 500 grams ground beef
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 small leek, chopped
  • parsley, chopped, we used one fistful
  • 1-1/2 cups cooked rice
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped bacon, optional
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 80 grams pine nuts
  • 200 grams arseniko cheese in cubes
  • 150 ml white wine, we used Psiles Korfes from Samos
  • 80 grams raisins, optional
  • 80 grams cranberries, optional

How to make the Savory Stuffed Pumpkin with Cheese and all things Autumn

  1. Wash pumpkin; cut a 6-in. circle around the top stem. Remove top and set aside; discard seeds and loose fibers from inside. Place enough parchment paper to cover the pumpkin and put it in a medium pan. Season the inside with salt and nutmeg. Lightly brush the skin with olive oil. Leave aside.
  2. In a large skillet, cook the beef, onion, and leek over medium heat until meat is no longer pink and vegetables are tender. Add the wine and let it simmer for five minutes. Add rice, tomato, garlic, parsley, bacon, oregano, pepper, paprika, cumin, pine nuts, cranberries, raisins, and remaining salt. Finally, add the cheese tubes and 50 ml of extra water!
  3. Firmly pack the beef mixture into pumpkin; replace the top. Cover tightly with parchment paper and aluminum foil. For a medium pumpkin, bake at 200° C for 2 – 2,5 hours. To check if the pumpkin is tender pick with a skewer. If it’s soft, you’re ready! Let stand for 10 minutes. Remove the top; if desired. Slice pumpkin into wedges.

Enjoy with white wine and friends!

Do you want more savory recipes? Check out our Chicken Pot Pies!

Did you make this recipe?

We’d love to know how it turned out! Let us know by leaving a comment below, or share a photo on Instagram: tag @thelifelaboratories and hashtag it #thelifelabbakes

Good Luck!