Now that I’m all decorated for Christmas I’m left with 4 small sugar pumpkins that I had been using outside on my doorstep for Fall decorations. I hate to waste anything, especially food, so I decided to roast the little beauties up. Contrary to what you may be thinking, roasting pumpkins is easy and the end result, delicious. If you’ve ever roasted any other kind of squash, then you’ll soon find that this is pretty much the same thing. The only difference is that there’s a bit more stringy ‘slime’ in pumpkins than in other kinds of squashes.
Pick the Right Pumpkin
Using the right kind of pumpkin for roasting is important. You see, not all pumpkins are created equal. Giant pumpkins commonly used for carving jack-o’-lanterns might seem like they would be impressive to roast, but they really are not. They are hard to handle, tough to cut, have an unappealing texture, and aren’t very sweet. I have a few of these large pumpkins, but they are going into my compost pile, not my oven.
Instead, the best pumpkins for roasting are smaller — anywhere from two to six pounds, or so. You’re likely to see these pumpkins labeled as “sugar pumpkins” or “pie pumpkins.” These pumpkins are best for cooking and baking; they’re sweet and flavorful, with smooth flesh.
It’s Really No Different than Roasting Squash
While you can roast a pumpkin whole, it saves some time to halve it or cut it into wedges as I prefer to do, especially since I plan to roast 4 today instead of one. This also gives you a chance to scoop out all the seeds, which you can roast as a snack as I will also be doing today. Unlike some other types of squash, pumpkins have thick skin, which is best removed from the flesh after roasting. When your pumpkin is Roasted thoroughly, the skin can easily be peeled right off.
Using Roasted Pumpkin
Pumpkin is just another type of squash, so use it just as you would any other type of winter squash. You can eat it as is, cut it into cubes and toss them into a salad, or use them in a curry, soup, or stir-fry. And of course, you can also purée roasted pumpkin in a food processor or blender and use it to bake bread, cookies, pies, and tarts. I will be using puréed pumpkin to make a simple kugel that can be prepared in under 5 minutes. Recipe to come in the next day or two.
Remove the seeds:
Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy innards. You can save the seeds for later to roast them for a snack, or discard them. I use a grapefruit spoon for this and find that the serrated spoon tip is helpful in getting the job done quickly.
How To Roast a Pumpkin
Makes 2 to 3 cups roasted pumpkin
What You Need
1 (2- to 3-pound) pumpkin
Cooking oil (vegetable, canola, olive oil)
Heat the oven: Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Remove the stem: Turn the pumpkin on its side, and use a sharp knife to slice the top, including the stem, off the pumpkin.
Halve the pumpkin: Use a sharp knife to cut the pumpkin in half, from the top to the bottom.
Remove the seeds: Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy innards. You can save the seeds for later to roast them for a snack, or discard them.
Cut into wedges: Cut each pumpkin half into wedges, roughly 3 inches wide, then place them skin-side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Brush with oil: Lightly brush the flesh of each of the pumpkin wedges with cooking oil.
Roast the pumpkin: Roast for about 35 to 40 minutes, until fork-tender.
Remove the skin: Remove the pumpkin from the oven, and cool for about 10 minutes — just until it’s cool enough to handle. Separate the pumpkin flesh from the skin, and discard the skin.
Purée (optional): Transfer the pumpkin flesh to a food processor or blender and purée until smooth.
Store the roasted pumpkin (chunks or purée) in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
What to do with the seeds:
If you’re like us, then you love roasted pumpkin seeds. These too are pretty simple to prepare. All you have to do is separate the seeds from the pulpy ‘slime’, rinse them well and allow to dry. I blot them with a paper towel and spread them out on a baking sheet to dry completely.
Once dry, toss 1 1/2 cups of seeds in a bowl with 2 teaspoons of melted butter and a pinch of salt. Spread the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake in a (preheated) 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until golden brown; stir occasionally. That’s it. Voila, you’ve got a yummy and healthy snack.