The perfect blend of sweet & savory, this Turkish vegan rice stuffed pumpkin dish will make a stunning Thanksgiving centerpiece! Gluten-free, allergy/WFPB-friendly.
Looking for a centerpiece for your upcoming plant-based feast? Trying to make sure that your 13-year-old daughter doesn't starve herself after she decided to go vegan overnight last week and is eating nothing but lettuce? For both of those situations and everything in between, let me introduce you to a traditional Turkish dish: balkabağı dolması.
In Eastern Turkey, it is pretty popular during fall and winter. Why, you ask? Because this dish is very filling, relatively easy-to-make, gorgeous-looking, very inexpensive, and DELICIOUS.
What is Inside Vegan Turkish Rice-Stuffed Pumpkin?
Since this dish is very accessible, you probably already have most of these ingredients already at hand:
For the Pumpkin:
- 1 large pumpkin (or 3 times as many smaller pumpkins)
- 2 tablespoon molasses (grape or blackstrap)
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the Filling:
- 1 cup medium grain rice (arborio, baldo)
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, grated
- ½ cup almonds, roasted
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 6 parsley sprigs
- 4 dill sprigs
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 cup water
How to Make Balkabağı Dolması
- Preheat the oven to 325 Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, soak the rice in drinking water with salt.
- Wash the pumpkins, cut out the tops, then scoop out the seeds inside.
- Brush the inside of the pumpkins with molasses and sprinkle with ground cinnamon. Put the tops back on then bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
- To make the filling, sautee the onions in olive oil for 5 minutes in a medium-sized pan. Then add the almonds and sautee for another 5 minutes.
- Add the rice, cinnamon, parsley, and salt.
- When the pumpkins are done with their initial bake, stuff them with the rice filling. Add the orange juice and water. Stir everything.
- Seal with the pumpkin caps and bake for 1 hour.
- Let slightly cool before serving with fresh dill, and cut into slices if desired.
- It will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. You may also freeze this dish after cutting into slices for up to 3 months.
Tips for Making Vegan Rice Stuffed Pumpkin
The following few tips will ensure that you get this dish perfect every single time:
- When choosing the pumpkins, if available, go with "sugar pumpkins" or "pie pumpkins" for more flavor. If all you have are the jack-o’-lantern types, I don't believe it will taste as delicious— unless you are planning to use the pumpkins as decorative plates.
- Grating the onions is very important for this recipe. Even though I love onions, I wouldn't prefer chunks of it in a rice dish.
- Depending on the BTU output of your oven, the rice may need more or less water. Check 45 minutes into the bake to make this adjustment.
- You can make the rice filling one day ahead if you are planning to serve this dish the next day when you will be preoccupied.
If you'd like to make this recipe even healthier / whole-food-plant-based:
- Omit the olive oil and sautee everything with a little bit of water instead.
- Skip heating the almonds completely to lower the acrylamide content.
This Turkish balkabağı dolması recipe is...
- & perfect for Thanksgiving!
Looking for other Thanksgiving recipes?
Try these other delicacies full of flavor for your feast:
- butternut squash soup with red lentil
- butternut squash mac and cheese
- easy vegan pumpkin dessert
- pumpkin chocolate chip cookies
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you make this for Thanksgiving!Print