My family makes this showstopping pumpkin dish every year, and it's the easiest Thanksgiving centerpiece

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My family makes this showstopping pumpkin dish every year, and it's the easiest Thanksgiving centerpiece
This plate could be its own centerpiece.Carolina Gazal
  • Ghapama is a traditional Armenian recipe for stuffed pumpkin served on special holidays.
  • You'll need a medium-sized pumpkin, rice, dried fruits, chopped nuts, butter, and cinnamon.

With Thanksgiving around the corner, I made my family's recipe for ghapama, a baked, rice-filled pumpkin.

It always reminds me of family memories gathered around the dinner table and was surprisingly simple to make.

Here's how:

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First, I washed and prepped the ingredients

My family makes this showstopping pumpkin dish every year, and it's the easiest Thanksgiving centerpiece
I started by setting up my ingredients.Carolina Gazal

The traditional Armenian dish can be customized in many ways, but I used a classic recipe calling for a pumpkin, nuts, dried fruit, and pantry staples.

I started by washing my pumpkin, cutting a star into the center, and scraping out the seeds with a spoon.

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My spoon couldn't fit in the hole I carved because my pumpkin was so small, so I ended up creating a square shape to make this process easier.

My family makes this showstopping pumpkin dish every year, and it's the easiest Thanksgiving centerpiece
I attempted to cut out a design at the top.Carolina Gazal

I used my hands to pull out the seeds from the stringy innards. I suggest saving the seeds to roast later.

After I scraped everything out of the pumpkin, I rinsed the remaining gunk out and patted it dry.

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The stuffing is made primarily with rice

My family makes this showstopping pumpkin dish every year, and it's the easiest Thanksgiving centerpiece
I later realized I had way too much rice.Carolina Gazal

For the filling, I filled a saucepan with 3 cups of water and 1 ½ cups of rice. I stirred it all together and reduced the heat to a low setting and let it simmer for 15 minutes as I washed and cleaned my pumpkin seeds.

It's crucial to not let the rice cook all the way through because it will be softened even more while it's inside the pumpkin.

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I added the chopped fruits and nuts to the rice

My family makes this showstopping pumpkin dish every year, and it's the easiest Thanksgiving centerpiece
I added a colorful assortment of fruits and nuts to my rice.Carolina Gazal

After the rice cooked for a bit, I mixed ¼ cup of cranberries, ¼ cup of dried apricots, and ¼ cup of pine nuts into a large bowl. You can also add in walnuts, plums, cherries, or any other dried fruit.

The rice becomes quite sweet later on, so if you prefer a nice crunch I'd recommend adding more nuts than fruits.

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I also added melted butter, a sprinkle of cinnamon, salt and pepper, and a tablespoon of honey. This smelled delicious and filled my entire kitchen with a warm, fragrant aroma.

At this point, I realized I had way too much rice for my pumpkin so I cooked it all the way through and saved it for a future dish.

I filled the pumpkin with the rice and hot water

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My family makes this showstopping pumpkin dish every year, and it's the easiest Thanksgiving centerpiece
I made sure to leave some room for water.Carolina Gazal

I loosely spooned the rice into the pumpkin, making sure to leave some room for ¼ cup of hot water.

This was a messy process, but it only took a few minutes.

The pumpkin takes an hour to bake

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My family makes this showstopping pumpkin dish every year, and it's the easiest Thanksgiving centerpiece
I was worried the pumpkin wouldn't fit.Carolina Gazal

Now that the pumpkin was filled, I placed the stem back on top of the rice and set my oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. I also adjusted my oven rack so the pumpkin had plenty of space.

I cooked it on a foil-lined pan for an hour, checking on it every so often as I cleaned pumpkin seeds from my kitchen floor.

The final pumpkin was warm, buttery, and delicious

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My family makes this showstopping pumpkin dish every year, and it's the easiest Thanksgiving centerpiece
I couldn't wait to try the rice filling.Carolina Gazal

The hot dish smelled like rice, cinnamon, and sweet apricots. After it cooled for 10 minutes, I couldn't resist trying the rice.

I was surprised that I could taste the honey and cinnamon flavors. It balanced out the crunchy pine nuts and savory rice.

My family makes this showstopping pumpkin dish every year, and it's the easiest Thanksgiving centerpiece
I cut the pumpkin into wedges.Carolina Gazal

For serving, I moved it to a larger bowl and cut the pumpkin into wedges to let the rice and fruits fall through.

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My family makes this showstopping pumpkin dish every year, and it's the easiest Thanksgiving centerpiece
The baked pumpkin with rice looked and smelled glorious.Carolina Gazal

I always thought this was a complicated recipe but it ended up only taking seven straightforward steps.

I would definitely make this again in a larger pumpkin or maybe a squash. This rice works on its own but would also be good with a ground-beef filling.

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