Middle Eastern Stuffed Mini Pumpkin By Chef Erica Karbelnik

Evolve 2023 Thanksgiving Series

It’s pumpkin season! Celebrate with this perfect side dish. These delicious and sweet mini roasted pumpkins, stuffed with cinnamon rice, is the best addition to your Thanksgiving table and celebrations.


6 mini pumpkins

1 cup basmati rice, rinsed

1/2 white onion, diced

2 cups water

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted and shelled

1/2 orang,e zested or 1 tsp dried orange zest

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1/2 cup almond slivers, toasted

1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries or BOTH

2 tsp vegetable oil

½ tsp salt, to taste


  1. Preheat your oven to 400F degrees. Cut the tops off your mini pumpkins, scoop out the seeds (save those for later) and place your pumpkins in a baking dish.
  2. Drizzle vegetable oil onto the pumpkins. Season with salt and cover with tin foil. Pop in the oven for about 30 minutes until pumpkins are soft and roasted but not fall apart.
  3. While the pumpkins are roasting, make your rice.
  4. On low heat, add butter into a pan and diced onions, sweat until translucent.
  5. Add in your rice, raisins and cranberries, and cinnamon and then cover with water. Bring to a boil, give it a stir and then bring it down to a simmer and cover for 10 minutes.
  6. Once the rice is fully cooked, add in your nuts and seeds and dried orange zest. Season to taste.
  7. Stuff your pumpkins and enjoy this delectable holiday side dish!


Chef Erica Karbelnik has always had a passion for food. She began cooking at a young age with her mom by her side, hosting weekly dinner parties and recipe testing. It was there, in her home kitchen, that sparked her passion for culinary arts.

At 17, chef Erica started cooking professionally. She worked as an apprentice under chef Mark McEwan at ONE Restaurant, which led to a full-time position.

Since, chef Erica has travelled across the globe, bringing flavours from each country into her cooking. She has gone back and forth from Toronto to Vancouver, working alongside some of Canada’s most recognized chefs, training in French Italian cuisine and specializing in handmade pasta.

Recently, chef Erica competed alongside her husband and fellow chef, Josh Karbelnik, in Food Network Canada’s Top Chef Canada, where she took home the title and grand prize. During this competition, she honed into her Moroccan Israeli background bringing those flavours to the table and finding her stride in her cooking style.

Chef Erica, has been a busy bee! She has recently became a new mom, opened her own at home private dining company ( @bringonthekarbs ) where her and her husband bring the restaurant to you, and is currently about to launch her own brand of products including her Truffle Hunny Vinaigrette inspired by her season on TopChef Canada.

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