Roasted pumpkin is the key ingredient in pumpkin pies, other custards, and as a base in soup. The pumpkin is roasted and then pureed. However, as roasted vegetables become increasingly popular, we have also begun to enjoy roasted pumpkin as a side dish. Learn each method to enjoy the great flavor of pumpkin.
Roasted Pumpkin Puree
There is a prime reason for roasting a pumpkin: to get pumpkin puree. That being the case, there is one very simple way to accomplish the goal. We do not recommend baking the whole pumpkin while it is intact — you may end up with a watery mess. In addition, check with your pumpkin vendor to make sure you are buying a pie pumpkin. A pie pumpkin will have denser flesh and darker color. Once you have procured a good baking pumpkin, follow these simple steps:
Wash and dry the outside of the pumpkin.
Remove the stem end just as you would if you were making a jack-o-lantern.
From the top, cut the pumpkin in half to expose the seeds and membranes.
Using the sharp edge of a large spoon, scrape out the membrane and pumpkin seeds.
Place the two pumpkin halves, cut side down, on an oiled cookie sheet with sides. The sides are to keep oil from dripping onto the bottom of your oven.
Bake the pumpkin in a 375 degree oven for about 50 minutes. The time will depend on the size of your pumpkin and your altitude. Use a sharp knife to test for doneness. When the pumpkin is done you should experience no resistance when sliding in the knife.
Allow time for the baked pumpkin to cool enough for handling.
With your sharp spoon, scrape the baked pumpkin away from the skin. Pumpkin skin never softens. It is now fodder for the compost.
Place the pumpkin flesh in a food processor and puree until smooth.
If your recipe calls for canned pumpkin, allow your pumpkin puree to drain through a colander for about 30 minutes to remove some of the water. If the pumpkin is a “jack-o-lantern” type, allow it to drain over night.
Keep the puree in a tightly closed container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or package it for the freezer. If you have a favorite recipe or two requiring pumpkin puree or winter squash puree, freeze the puree in the amounts called for in the recipe(s).
Keep in mind that pureed pumpkin and pureed winter squash can be used interchangeably in recipes. Once you have a stash of frozen pumpkin puree, you will find recipe ideas for using it everywhere you look — everything from breakfast muffins and pancakes to curried soup, pumpkin molasses cookies and pumpkin cheesecake.
Roasted Pumpkin Cubes and Slices
If you are interested in roasting pumpkin, look past the usual jack-o-lantern types and look instead for the sugar pie pumpkins. They are dense, highly colored, and sweet. Part of the flavor and charm of roasted pumpkin are the caramelized edges, so plan to have lots of edges. If you plan to serve this as a side dish (rather than just turning it into pumpkin puree), do not just roast two halves of pumpkin. Either go with peeled pumpkin pieces or long slices of pumpkin with the peel left on.
Cubed Roasted Pumpkin Ingredients
2 small sugar pie pumpkins
2 tablespoons oil
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
3 tablespoon melted butter
2 tablespoons finely minced Italian parsley
Cubed Roasted Pumpkin Steps
Wash and dry the outside of the pumpkin.
Remove the core as you would for a jack-o-lantern.
Cut the pumpkin in half.
Scrape out the seeds and membrane.
Cut the pumpkin into quarters and remove the skin with a vegetable peeler. The process will be much easier than if you tried to peel the pumpkin when it was whole or in half.
Cut the pumpkin in 1 inch cubes. Of course, they won’t actually be cubes, but aim at having them about the same size for even roasting.
Pour the oil and sprinkle the salt onto a cookie sheet with sides.
Toss the pumpkin cubes in the oil until they are totally covered with oil. Spread them out. Do not crowd the pan. The cubes should not be touching. If you have more than that, use a second pan and rotate the two pans from top to bottom oven rack during the roasting process.
Roast at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes. The roasting time will depend on the pumpkin variety and the size of the cubes.
Every ten minutes stir the cubes, turning them over for even cooking. Your aim is to have them caramelize on more than one side. The more fully cooked they are, the more care you must take in turning them to keep them from falling apart.
Continue to roast until you have a heavenly scent coming from the oven and your cubes have some caramelized edges.
To serve as a side dish, drizzle with some melted butter and a sprinkling of finely minced flat-leafed parsley.
Roasted Pumpkin Spears Steps
Follow the steps above except for numbers 5 and 6. Do not peel the pumpkin. You want the peel on to help hold the shape of the pumpkin slice. There is a bit of drama in being able to serve up a slice.
Slice the pumpkin into eighths and follow all the rest of the directions above.
Be especially careful in turning the pieces toward the end of the roasting process.
To get more extravagant with your roasted pumpkin, add the zest of an orange, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and 2 tablespoon maple syrup to the oil before you toss in the pumpkin. Roast at 375 degrees instead of 400. When the pumpkin is cooked and out of the pan, de-glaze the pan using 2 tablespoon of water. Drizzle the glaze over the pumpkin just before serving.