This Gooey, creamy VEGAN Pumpkin Queso Fundido baked inside a mini pumkin, carved with a Jack-o-lantern face makes for a fun Halloween appetizer!
What is Halloween without pumpkins?
Jack-o-lanterns are an Irish tradition, which Irish immigrants brought over to the New World. Ancient Celtic cultures in Ireland hollowed out turnips and potatoes and lit a flame in them on All Hallow’s Eve to ward off evil spirits. When they came to America, they saw the Pumpkin, which is indigenous to the continent, and adapted the tradition to this new and intriguing vegetable.
I’m wrapping up this year’s Halloween series with this Pumpkin Queso Fundido – which means ‘melted cheese’, served in a pumpkin bowl, carved with a Jack-o-Lantern face – a reminder to be of ancient traditions.
You start by making your pumpkin bowl. I chose a mini ‘pie’ pumpkin with a nice length of stem that doubles as a handle, cut the ‘lid’ off with a serrated knife. And to scoop the flesh inside, I used a melon baller [affiliate link]; much more sharper than a spoon and a lot more easier to maneuver than a knife.
I got about a half cup of flesh from the inside – don’t dig too much, you want the bowl to be atleast a 1/2 inch thick on the sides, and a full inch thick on the bottom, so that it doesn’t collapse when it bakes and softens.
And then you carve out the Jack-o-lantern face. Make it good, but don’t slice all the way into the pumpkin. Just go deep enough to get rid of the hard outer skin, and a little into the softer inner flesh. A small indentation to hold the design.
Now you put the delicious things into the pumpkin bowl. Saute some onions and jalapeno – it gets the flavors out. Then you reduce the pumpkin puree, melt the cheese to get it going, toss in a little cashew paste and put it all into your pumpkin bowl.
Now, you bake.
Baking softens the pumpkin, and allows the flavors to marinate into the cheese, making it extra molten, extra gooey, and extra everything!
Enjoy your amazing VEGAN Pumpkin Queso Fundido with an assortment of chips, vegetables, toasted bread, and anything else that warrants a dunking into warm, gooey, molten cheese.
So simple, yet, it will be a stunner on the table, I promise.
Make ahead instructions:
You can carve the pumpkin a few days in advance, and assemble the queso upto a day ahead of when you need to serve. Refrigerate the assembled pumpkin, and bake just before your guests arrive.
And if you’d like a regular version, made with real cheese, here’s a recipe for a non-vegan Spicy Queso Fundido in a pumpkin.
And when you make this delicious VEGAN Pumpkin Queso (which I really think you SHOULD!), be sure to SHARE YOUR PHOTOS with me through Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. I’d love to see what you cook from here!
- 1.5 lb mini pie pumpkin
- 1/4 c pumpkin puree*
- 1/4 c cashew, soaked (optional)
- 1/2 c vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1/3 c red onion, chopped
- 1 jalapeno, chopped (de-seed if you like less heat)
- 1/4 tsp cajun seasoning (optional)
- 1/4 tsp fried red chilli flakes
- 1/4 c non-dairy milk
- 2 c daiya cheddar style shreds
- Salt, to taste
Prep the pumpkin
- Using a small serrated knife, slice the top of the pumpkin off.
- Using a melon baller, or a very sharp spoon, scoop out the seeds and gunk. You can either toss them, or roast the seeds for a tasty snack.
- Continue scraping the flesh, and save it. I got about 1/2 cup of scraped flesh, which you then puree until smooth without adding any liquid.
- Using a marker, draw a jack-o-lantern face on the pumpkin, and using a x-acto knife, carve out the shape about 1/8" thick, without going all the way through,
Prep the cashew
- Drain the soaking water from the cashews and blend to a smooth paste. Scrape the sides while blending. If you must use liquid to help the blending alone, use a teaspoon of the vegetable broth.
Saute the vegetables
- Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.
- In a small cast iron skillet, heat the oil, and saute the chopped garlic, onion and jalapeno, until they soften and turn fragrant. Season with salt, fried red chilli flakes and cajun seasoning.
- Remove from heat, and transfer to a bowl.
Reduce the pumpkin
- In the same skillet, add the pumpkin puree and vegetable stock. Reduce until it's thick, like a puree, except now the pumpkin is cooked and infused with the vegetable stock.
- To the reduced pumpkin puree, add the cheese and stir on low heat until molten.
- Toss in the sauteed vegetables you set aside earlier.
- Turn off heat and stir in the cashew paste. If it's too thick, add non-dairy milk to make it as thin as you like.
- Transfer to the pumpkin bowl. Place pumpkin in a deep baking dish and pout about 1/2 cup of water in the dish. Place the pumpkin 'lid' into the baking dish.
- Bake in the pre-heated oven at 375F/190C for about 30 minutes, or until the pumpkin is tender and the cheese is soft and molten.
- Serve warm with chips, sliced vegetables and toasted bread.
- * I scooped about 1/2 c pumpkin flesh out of my mini pumpkin. Along with the 1/4 c pumpkin puree, this recipe uses 3/4 c pumpkin puree in all. If you scoop more or less pumpkin flesh from your pumpkin, adjust puree as necessary.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 514Total Fat: 30gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 71mgSodium: 782mgCarbohydrates: 47gFiber: 3gSugar: 24gProtein: 15g