There are some pretty spectacular serving pieces found in nature. Hollowed out pumpkins and squash, avocadoes, pineapples, even onions. Stuffing them with just the right food can make for a stunning presentation. Imagine pumpkin spread by itself in an ordinary bowl. Then envision it inside a small pumpkin. In a bowl it’s nice. In a pumpkin, it truly becomes pretty food. See what else I’ve cooked up below.
I saw this gorgeous vegetable specimen at the Farmer’s Market. I had no idea what it was (although it was with a bunch of zucchini), but I knew I wanted it. Once I cut it open and tried a bite (yes, I ate a piece raw), it was apparent it was some type of winter squash. I took out the seeds, hollowed a nice size opening, and filled it with Curried Pumpkin Carrot Soup. It was a great marriage because I could tell that the taste of the squash, should someone’s spoon go a little deep, would not clash with the soup’s flavor.
This one was a no-brainer. Squash bowls! I cooked the spaghetti squash, then used a fork to get the meat out in its characteristic spaghetti-like texture. After I made the Spaghetti Squash with Garlic, I just loaded it back into one of the shells of the squash halves, and threw a few garnishes made with my special vegetable curler on the plate.
Tuna salad, chicken salad, crab salad. Any of them would be lovely stuffed into avocado halves. After removing the avocado pit, scoop a large spoonful of the avocado meat from each half. Reserve that for use in guacamole or some other lovely avocado-based dish. That way, you’ll make more room for your salad and you’ll achieve just the right ratio between green stuff and filling.
Small pumpkins make great serving bowls. (Well, big ones do, too, but you gotta put a lot in them.) To avoid having to bake the pumpkin first (it won’t last as long once it’s been cooked), I lined the entire thing, bottom and all, with leaf lettuce. That effectively shielded my Squash Salad from the pumpkin innards and it also dressed it up a bit.
Hollowed-out pineapple halves make a beautiful presentation vehicle. Here, we’ve filled the pineapple boat with fresh fruit, garnished with mint.
More fruit salad in pineapple — but keep in mind that the pineapple boat works well for a variety of things, including just about any Asian dish. Experiment with different platters underneath your container to see which one really pops. I never did decide whether I preferred the black or the lavender. It’s all good!
This easy pumpkin spread is a beautiful thing to serve at any fall function. Here, I did bake the pumpkin for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees after I cut off the top and took out the seeds and stringy part. Baking the pumpkin cuts down on the sliminess of the inside and readies it for the yummy spread to be piled inside.
Believe it or not, this is French Onion Soup served inside a giant Vidalia onion. We ordered this at the restaurant 1875, located within the West Baden Hotel & Resort in French Lick, Indiana. When I dissected it, it appeared to me they had roasted the onion and removed all but the outer 2 or 3 layers and skin. They ladled soup inside, then topped with a crouton and cheese. I suspect it went under the broiler briefly after that. My only quarrel was with the boring white plate and the lackluster garnish of pepper on its rim. I’m going to experiment with the use of an onion as a soup bowl and I’ll let you know what I figure out.