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Cheesy Little Pumpkins make most of minis

Wee-B-Little pumpkins are adorable. They're also delicious baked with cheese and cream. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)

Recipe: Turn tiny pumpkins into fun fall side dish

What do you do with little pumpkins?

Every October, these baseball-size orange orbs pop up at farmstands and in markets. They’re attractive, piled in a basket or arranged in a harvest display. But how do you eat them?

Treat mini pumpkins like what they are: Winter squash. Just about any recipe for acorn squash, for example, can be adapted to a mini pumpkin, too.

Like any vegetable, some varieties are tastier than others. (Flat, hard minis border on “decorative use” only.) For cooking, choose mini pumpkins with smooth skin and round shape; they have better texture and more flesh.

This summer, I grew a late harvest of Wee-B-Little pumpkins, grown from seed (available from The 1999 All-America Seed Selection winner, this compact semi-bush dwarf pumpkin thrives in a relatively small space; the whole plant covers less than 3 feet square.

Planted in early July, Wee-B-Little has been prolific with several 3- to 4-inch round pumpkins, weighing just under 1 pound each. They’re adorable.

My original intention was to carve a bunch of mini jack-o-lanterns, but the seed cavity inside each Wee-B-Little was too small and the walls too thick.

Fortunately, they’re delicious. Mini pumpkins can be roasted, boiled, steamed, baked or mashed. Or they can be cooked and pureed for use in other recipes.

Cheesy Little Pumpkins takes advantage of their unique size and shape. It makes a fun side dish during the fall holidays. Eat with a spoon to scoop out bits of pumpkin with the filling.

Cheesy Little Pumpkins
Makes 2 servings


Two mini pumpkins, about 12 ounces each
Cheesy Little Pumpkins make a fun fall side dish.

Salt to taste

¼ to ½ cup Monterey Jack or Havarti cheese

¼ cup heavy cream

Freshly grated nutmeg


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Wash pumpkins and core them, removing seeds and scraping out seed cavity.

Sprinkle a little salt inside each pumpkin. Fill each pumpkin loosely with grated cheese. A small pumpkin may need only 2 tablespoons; a larger pumpkin, about ¼ cup.

Place pumpkins in a rimmed baking pan. Pour cream over cheese, about 2 tablespoons per pumpkin. Sprinkle grated nutmeg over the top of the filling.

Bake in 350-degree oven for 1 hour. Cover if getting too browned. When done, cheesy custard filling will not be quite set, but pumpkin will be soft.

Serve warm with a spoon.

For more Sacramento Digs Gardening recipes, see the Recipe Index on the home page.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of June 4:

Because of the comfortable weather, it’s not too late to set out tomato and pepper seedlings as well as squash and melon plants. They’ll appreciate this not-too-hot weather. Just remember to water.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, melons, squash and sunflowers.

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes.

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.

* It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

* Let the grass grow longer. Set the mower blades high to reduce stress on your lawn during summer heat. To cut down on evaporation, water your lawn deeply during the wee hours of the morning, between 2 and 8 a.m.

* Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

* Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.

* Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

* Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

* Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

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