Roasting Autumn Pumpkins

With the cool air coming in and the leaves turning into those bright hues of reds, yellows and orange that can only mean one thing: Autumn. Growing up as kids going to the pumpkin watch was one of the greatest things to do. We also wanted to see is the Great Pumpkin was going to be there, of course that was all because of Charlie Brown, which I still watch to this day with my own kids.

Besides making amazing lack-o-lanterns, roasting a fresh pumpkin is the best thing to do. Not only will the flesh of the pumpkin taste amazing and make those pies and breads amazing but you get pumpkin seeds too. I love salt roasted pumpkin seeds. It makes a great snack. Bonus roasting the pumpkin will make your house smell like autumn all day.

Most pumpkins commonly sold are large, grainy squash grown for carving and feeding farm animals.  They’re not really intended for human consumption.  By contrast, “pie pumpkins” are smaller, sweeter, less grainy textured pumpkins than the usual jack-o-lantern types.  Grocery stores usually carry them in late September through December.

Just like selecting any squash or gourd, look for one that is firm, no bruises or soft spots, and a good in color.

It couldn’t be easier to roast a pumpkin. Slice, scoop, roast. And you can freeze what you don’t use for a few months and be able to get that fresh taste later in the year.

This is a great thing to do with the kids, you can make them scoop out the insides. What kid do you know that doesn’t like to get messy?

HOW TO ROAST A PIE PUMPKIN

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F degrees.
  2. Using a sharp knife cut the pie pumpkin in half; scrape out seeds using a large spoon and place in a collider.
  3. Drizzle pumpkin with a little olive oil.
  4. Place cut side down on a baking sheet. Roast until very soft, about 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool.
  5. Once cool scoop the flesh from the skin, use now or place in a container for a later dated. You should get at least 2-3 cups of pumpkin goop.

Now that you have roasted a pumpkin and scooped the brains out, what are you going to do with the seeds. ROAST THEM!!

HOW TO ROAST PUMPKIN SEEDS

2 cups fresh pumpkin seeds, or whatever you scoop from one pumpkin

3 tablespoons butter, melted

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 250°F. Line a large sheet pan with aluminum foil and lightly grease it with butter or oil. This reduces cleanup later…trust me on this
  2. Using a large spoon, scrape the sides of the pumpkin to remove the seeds and pulp. Place everything—pulp and all—in a large bowl. You can roast the seeds of both types of pumpkins.
  3. You might be wondering, “Do you have to clean pumpkin seeds before roasting?” Yep. And this used to be the part I dreaded (that slimy, stringy pumpkin flesh!). Turns out it’s actually much easier than I thought. Just use your fingertips to pull the seeds free. Leave the large pieces of pumpkin pulp in the bowl as you transfer the seeds to a colander. They’ll still look pretty goopy—don’t worry. The fibrous strands can be challenging to remove, but we have a trick for that: Rinse the seeds in the colander under cold running water. The water will loosen the strands and make it easier to pull them off.
  4. Now that you removed most of the pulpy pieces, it’s time to get the seeds ready for seasoning. Some people swear by boiling or soaking the seeds in salt water to make them extra crispy after baking. We didn’t find this extra step made much difference—a simple rinse under cold running water did the trick. Pat the seeds dry with a towel.
  5. Combine the seasonings with the butter or oil in a small bowl. Then drizzle the mix over the dry seeds in a medium-sized bowl. Stir the mixture to make sure each seed is coated.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes, making sure to stir and toss the seeds occasionally. Most ovens have hot spots, which can lead to burnt seeds. Stirring the seeds from time to time promotes even browning.
  7. Increase the oven temperature to 325°F after the 45 minutes. Then continue baking until the seeds are lightly browned and dry, about 5 minutes more. DON’T turn away!! They burn quickly!!

With all this pumpkin roasting going on what is the first thing you are going to make? I already know what I am making a pumpkin pie! Hopefully the roasted seeds can keep the family away until the pie cools and is ready to eat. One can hope, right?

Bon Appétit

 

 

 

 

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