At The VegiTerranean, Pretenders singer Chrissie Hynde’s vegan restaurant in Akron, Ohio, chef J. Scot Jones has a motto: World peace begins in the kitchen. But don’t be surprised to find people fighting for seconds of this hearty entree.
Barley Stuffed Pumpkin
4 T. extra-virgin olive oil
4 mini pie pumpkins, 3 inches in diameter
4 cups barley (roasted for 10 minutes at 350ºF)
3 cups sliced mixed wild mushrooms
1½ cups oven roasted tomatoes, or sundried tomatoes, sliced
1 white onion, diced into small pieces
2 leeks (white part only), diced
1 T. fresh chopped sage
2 cups fresh arugula
6 cups apple cider
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF
2. In sauce pan, bring apple cider to boil, add barley, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until liquid is absorbed and barley is cooked, stirring occasionally.
3. Meanwhile, cut pumpkin around stem, leaving enough room to clean out seeds inside. Save top for garnish.
4. Brush outside of pumpkin with extra-virgin olive oil and roast for about an hour, or until flesh feels soft when pressed with finger. Let pumpkin sit until able to handle comfortably. Increase oven to 400ºF.
5. While pumpkins are cooling, sauté onions and leeks in olive oil over medium heat (about 2 to 3 minutes), add mushrooms and continue cooking for another 2 minutes. Add roasted tomatoes, and continue until leeks and onions are translucent.
6. From each roasted pumpkin, scoop out 1 tablespoon of flesh and add to mushroom/onion mixture. Stir in cooked barley and arugula. Mix well and season with salt and pepper to taste.
7. Put mixture into pumpkins and bake for 20 minutes, or until stuffing and pumpkins are warmed through.
Round out meal with braised greens, such as escarole and serve with a vegan Madeira cream sauce … a flavor that needs to be appreciated.
For more on The VegiTerranean, pick up the Dec. 8 issue of PEOPLE.