In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing my favorite fall dishes, but today I thought I’d start with the basics of how to roast a pumpkin. Sure, you can just buy it in a can, but nothing beats the fresh flavor and texture of making your own. It’s really not as difficult or time consuming as you’d think. Plus, you get to spend a morning or afternoon at the market and support local farmers.
First, you have to start with the right kind of pumpkin. While the large jack-o-lantern style variety might look beautiful, it’s best reserved for decoration. Smaller pumpkins, called sugar or pie pumpkins, are the best variety for baking for both their flavor and ease of handling.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Then, start by cutting a small slice off the top to remove the stem. Next, cut the pumpkin in half.
Then use a spoon to scoop out the stringy pulp. I like to scoop it straight into a colander, so I can rinse and save the seeds for roasting as well. Yum!
Cut the pumpkin halves into wedges. Arrange the wedges skin side down in a single layer on a baking sheet. Brush the flesh with extra virgin olive oil and place in the oven. Roast for 35-40 minutes, or until fork tender. After the pumpkin has cooled, remove the skin.
Using your pumpkin
Pumpkin is so versatile. It can be enjoyed sweet or savory. You can cube your roasted pumpkin to use on salads, in stir fries, and curries (Stay tuned for my Pumpkin Okra Curry recipe!). Or you can puree it to use in soup, pumpkin ravioli, pies, breads, smoothies, and more. It freezes well, so make a bunch all at once to have throughout the fall and winter.
Impressive Health Benefits of Pumpkin
A cup of cooked, mashed pumpkin contains more than 200 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which can help improve eyesight.
It is low in calories and rich in fiber, helping you to stay full and maintain a healthy weight.
The beta carotene that gives pumpkins their orange color (as well as carrots and sweet potatoes) is an antioxidant that is thought to prevent cancer, enhance sight, and protect skin from wrinkles.
They are also high in Vitamin C, which we all need as cold and flu season approaches.
So, ditch the PSL and get your pumpkin fix fresh for an abundance of benefits.