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Roasted Pumpkin

Sugar pumpkins or pie pumpkins are arriving at supermarkets & farmer's markets right about now.  With the start of Fall it seems so fitting and very much of the season to roast a few of these delicious squashes for pies, custards, breads or muffins.  So simple to prepare for us to enjoy, it's no wonder I roast several of them whenever I get the chance to do so.  Pumpkins contain a lot of beta carotene which converts to essential Vitamin A that we need for good overall health.  One cup of this flesh contains in excess of 500 mg. of vital potassium (per the University of Illinois), so why not take advantage of some now?  Having cup after cup of smooth puree at my disposal (I keep it frozen in one cup portions) enables me to whip up a batch of pumpkin bread or some tasty pumpkin custards should the mood strike me. 

Canned pumpkin is a convenient foodstuff which I highly recommend keeping in stock in one's pantry.  It's reliable, consistent and quite good.  Having homemade roasted pumpkin puree, however, can't be beat.  When you see how simple and hassle free it is to prepare, you're going to want to roast a few pumpkins this week.  Look for them the next time you're at the market. 

Two Sugar Pumpkins

With racks in the lower third
preheat the oven to 400° F (204° C).

Using a sharp chef's knife, carefully slice the pumpkin in half lengthwise.

Scoop out the pumpkin seeds into a bowl using a large spoon.

I keep two bowls for this process.  One is used to collect the seeds and the other is used for the fibers which have to be removed.  As soon as you've removed every seed, scrape out those fibers using the same spoon.  You really want to get in there and carve them out; keep a kitchen towel nearby as this is a slippery job.

The left half shows a cleaned out pumpkin.  The right one is not ready to roast just yet. 

Place the cleaned out pumpkins on a parchment or silpat-lined rimmed baking sheet or a large roasting pan; you must use a rimmed sheet or a pan with sides because the squashes release a lot of liquid as they roast

If you have small squashes, you may be able to fit 4 halves.

Depending on the size of the pumpkins, total roasting time will be between 30-45 minutes.

Use a large knife to test if they're ready.  When fully cooked the knife will slide right through with no resistance. 
Cool on racks until you're able to handle them.  This is what they look like.  Aren't they tempting?
Scoop out the flesh & place it in a food processor.  Pulse until it breaks up and process until smooth.  You may need to scrape down the bowl a few times to get it moving. 

The puree is as smooth as can be and is now ready for a number of recipes or for freezing.  Enjoy every bit of it!

Pie pumpkins are on the small side, making them the most tender & suitable for all of your pumpkin recipes.  Medium to large carving pumpkins meant for jack-o-lanterns are not appropriate for baking or roasting, because their flesh is too watery and insipid.  Save those for your creative and crafty ideas around your home this Halloween.  If you do happen to spot sugar or pie pumpkins in the coming days, purchase a few, slice them in half, clean them out and roast them until tender.  Once the flesh is pureed until smooth, you can then proceed with your favorite recipe or freeze the pumpkin for future use.  Now is the time to start filling our homes with the aroma of spice and the scrumptious flavor of pumpkin.  A simple thing to do, a delicious thing to eat, roasted pumpkin is one of this season's best and sweetest things to make. 


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