How To Roast A Sugar Pumpkin & Make Fresh Pumpkin Purée – A Step-by-step Photo Tutorial

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I unofficially deem this Sugar Pumpkin Week here on Oh She Glows. No wait, make that officially!

I’m not talking canned pumpkin this week.

I’m certainly not talking large carving pumpkins this week.

But sweet, cute-as-a-button sugar pumpkins. The ones that started showing up quite early in my grocery store at the end of August (thank you Organic Garage!). Often just 2-4 pounds, sugar pumpkins (also known as pie pumpkins or pumpkin pie squash) are sweeter than larger carving pumpkins, making them perfect for all of your favourite pumpkin dishes. Their flesh is also firmer and less stringy than carving pumpkins.

My goals for this week are to show you how simple it is to prepare a sugar pumpkin whether its roasting, puréeing, toasting the seeds, or making recipes. It’s really much easier and faster than you might think (at least it was for me!) and it’s nice to take a break from canned pumpkin once in a while. The flavour of a fresh roasted pumpkin is quite different from the canned variety; it’s a bit earthier and nuttier, not to mention so buttery when roasted. A side-by-side taste comparison of canned pumpkin versus freshly roasted pumpkin will make your head explode. It’s definitely worth the extra work now and then.

I hope my photos will inspire you to try it out for yourself if you haven’t already done so. For the pumpkin pros out there, feel free to share you favourite tips and recipes in the comments. If you can’t find a pie pumpkin in your area yet, feel free to try this with butternut squash. The roasting process is pretty much the same and the outcome is just as delicious.

All set?

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Roasting 101:

1. Preheat the oven to 350F and grab small 2-3 pound sugar pumpkin(s). I like to roast a couple 2-lb. pumpkins at the same time. Remember – we’re not looking for the huge carving pumpkins here.

First things first, sharpen your knife! You don’t want to use a dull knife on any squash…or food for that matter. 

2. Slice the stem off before slicing in half so you don’t have to slice through the stem.

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I forgot to in this photo below, but it’s much easier when you remove the top! Some people prefer to slice off both ends and then peel the entire pumpkin before roasting, but I find it easier to peel the skin after roasting – much like with roasted beets.

3. Slice in half.

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4. With a sharp-edged spoon (I use a metal tablespoon with a sharp edge or you can use a metal ice cream scoop), scoop out the seeds & guts. Make sure you clean & save the seeds for roasting. I’ll show you my favourite way to roast the seeds coming up in a future post. Whatever you do, do not throw them out!

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5. Brush inside with oil (optional, but I like to) and place face down on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. I roasted two 1.9-lb. sugar pumpkins. They are so tiny and could all fit on my roasting pan!

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6. Roast at 350F for about 45-50 minutes. The exact time will vary depending on the size of the pumpkin(s) and you may need more time. The skin will be slightly darker and you should be able to poke a fork quite easily through (see image below).

Here is my pumpkin ready to come out of the oven. As you can see, the skin is a deep orange, slightly wrinkled, and my fork could easily slide through.

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6b) I could not resist sticking my fork in and tasting my first (very hot) bite. YUM!! If you want to stop here, just give it a good sprinkling of Herbamare and freshly ground black pepper. Then dig in!

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7. Let the pumpkin cool for 10 minutes before handling. Grab a large spoon and peel away the very thin skin. It comes off almost effortlessly. At this point, you can use the flesh in all kinds of dishes – soups, casseroles, risotto, pies, etc.

Steamy!

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Into the compost goes the skin. Unless you’re Eric, you might put it in a smoothie…(I joke, I joke).

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Today, I decided to make pumpkin puree for a recipe I was planning (hint #1!).

8. If making a puree: Place the pumpkin flesh into the blender and blend away until super smooth. I used my tamper stick on the Vitamix to push all the pumpkin down until it got going. Let it go for a good minute or two – you don’t want any clumps left.

The result was out of this world – so smooth and buttery!

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3.8 pounds of pumpkin (weighed before roasting) made 4-4.5 cups of pumpkin puree. Not too shabby at all! As a rule of thumb, 1 small sugar pumpkin should make enough puree to equal one 15-oz. can.

At this point you can drain the pureed pumpkin in a cheesecloth to remove excess water or you can use it as is. I didn’t bother draining it because I knew I’d be cooking it down for the recipe (hint #2!).

Whatever you do – be sure to save the seeds for roasting.

Coming up – the recipe I used my pumpkin puree for and my favourite way to roast pumpkin seeds.

What’s your favourite way to enjoy fresh pumpkin?

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{ 151 comments… read them below or add one }

Erica { EricaDHouse.com } September 10, 2012

I don’t think I’ve ever had a sugar pumpkin! Judging by how much I started salivating over these photos I suppose I need to pick one up to roast next time I’m at the store :)

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Sandra November 6, 2014

I agree thanks 4 sharing

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marla September 10, 2012

I really needed to se this post because I LIVE on pumpkin this time of year. Great tutorial!

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Christa @ Edible Balance September 10, 2012

Love love love this!! I made my own purée for the first time last week and found it ridiculously easy! No more cans for this girl. Bought another one for this week, I’m getting my fill of pumpkin before we go on vacation :)

I would have loved to see this before my first attempt but I did it just the same… I can’t wait to see what you have in that genius mind of yours ;)

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Christa @ Edible Balance September 10, 2012

Oh, and I had no idea you could use the skins!!

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Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table September 10, 2012

I started roasting my own last winter and was amazing and how much more delicious it was than the canned variety. I roast mine face up… I wonder if it makes a difference face down? will have to try! Also, the puree freezes really well – great way to have fresh pumpkin into the spring (if it makes it that long!).

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Anele @ Success Along the Weigh September 10, 2012

That’s it…I’m DOING THIS! I may have enough pumpkin in the basement to make a record breaking pie but I’ve been putting this off way too long. Thanks for making it look like it’s way worth the effort. To the farmers market I goooo!

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Kelley September 10, 2012

I love this post. And I love that the sugar pumpkins are only about 2 pounds. And thanks for showing how simple they are to roast! My boyfriend’s mother cut up a gigantic pumpkin last year and we had pumpkin cubes & puree in our freezer for a very long time. I think 15 – 30oz at a time is just right. Fresh pumpkin in smoothies, cinnamon rolls, pumpkin spice scones, whoopie pies, chili, oh the possibilities. I can’t wait for full blown fall!

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Daniella September 10, 2012

Oh, how great! I’ve been wanting to make a spiced pumpkin bread which calls for pumpkin puree. I was going to make my own if I couldn’t find organic canned pumpkin… i’ll just do this! I guess it shouldn’t be too watery then mix… i’ll have to see how it turns out. Thanks!

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Andrea @ Vegvacious September 10, 2012

I roast squash just like this all of the time but have never done a pumpkin! Did you know pureed pumpkin is also very good for your pets (for my dogs anyways) when they have stomach upset?? You can freeze the puree in an ice cube tray and pull out a cube to thaw when needed! I use it religiously if my pups get the scoots (sorry if that’s TMI! LOL)

I can’t wait to see what you’re going to be cooking up this week!!!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 10, 2012

Yes! Sketchie had a bit of a problem as a kitten and the pumpkin worked wonders. He LOVED it too.

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Alex @ Healthy Life Happy Wife September 10, 2012

Fun! Love all things pumpkin & can’t wait to try this! I’ve never actually made homemade pumpkin puree but I have roasted pumpkin seeds! So excited for fall!!

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Sarah September 10, 2012

Your timing is impeccable – I was just coming online to look up “how to roast a sugar pumpkin” as I got several from my CSA this week. Luckily, I am almost as brilliant as you are, and checked here first. Thanks for being a mindreader :) Cheers.

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Rachel September 10, 2012

I’ve never made homemade pumpkin puree, only carved pumpkins ;) haha but I do looove making my own pumpkin soup :)

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Fiona September 10, 2012

Thank you for these types of posts, I love them! So helpful!

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Averie @ Averie Cooks September 10, 2012

Angela what an awesome tutorial! I have read that some people say that doing it yourself is not worth the work and that canned if just as good. I’ve never roasted a whole pumpkin like this (just squash) and you make a believer out of me that this has got to be way tastier than a storebought can of pumpkin puree. Can’t wait to see what you make with it!

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Whitney September 10, 2012

Great tutorial! I absolutely love fresh sugar pumpkin purees. It’s great to toss in chili. I usually use my crockpot to cook the pumpkin. Just chop it up, toss it in with a small bit of water and let it be for a few hours. Little effort and no need to turn on the oven

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 10, 2012

Love that tip – I’ll have to try that sometime!

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Danielle @ Itsaharleyyylife September 10, 2012

I always wondered how pumpkin puree was made.. I mean I knew it came from a pumpkin but I didn’t know what kind! I am pretty excited to keep my eye out for this type of pumpkin now! Thank you for sharing! I pinned it!

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Laura September 10, 2012

Awesome guide and helpful tips, Angela! There’s nothing like the real thing. I’ve been seeing those little sugar pumpkins popping up around the markets and I’ve been super tempted. Not sure about your neck of the woods, but in my little part of southern Ontario it’s still so summery. Keeping on with the tomatoes and corn, but dreaming of roasting up some pumpkin big time over here :)

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Eating 4 Balance September 10, 2012

I’ve made homemade pumpkin puree before and it turned out awesome. That was quite a while ago, so I think I will need to try your directions.

2 Questions: Do you have any problem in baking with homemade pumpkin puree? It always seems to come out a little thinner/watery. AND… Have you ever tried making pumpkin seed butter? If anything I think that I will buy a sugar pumpkin just to try that! The seeds at the store are so expensive. :)

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Eating 4 Balance September 10, 2012

Man, that’s what I get for skipping over words. Never mind about the first question!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 10, 2012

Homemade pumpkin puree does contain more water so some people like to strain it using a cheesecloth. No, I haven’t made pumpkin seed butter before – I imagine you’d have to shell each seed right?

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Eating 4 Balance September 10, 2012

You are probably right. That doesn’t sound very fun.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 10, 2012

hah sounds like a job for someone with patience (I’m probably not the best candidate!)

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Allison September 10, 2012

Beautiful photos! this makes me think of fall, my favorite season of the year.

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Lauren September 10, 2012

I’m happy to see this post and have it as a reference….pumpkins are pretty intimidating for me! Carving alone gives me the shakes, and thinking of trying to extract my own puree makes my palms sweat. My favorite way to enjoy it is simply as pumpkin pie…with whipped cream :-).

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Christina September 10, 2012

Hi Angela! I’ve never commented on here, but have always meant to… Your recipes are amazing, and everything I’ve tried from your blog has been a huge success! (Even with my non-vegan boyfriend!) The cookie dough balls, the kale salads, the green monsters, the roasted tomato pesto…. I could go on and on! I’m so happy this is pumpkin week, because pumpkins are probably my favorite thing in the world. I had an idea (or a challenge) for you… Have you seen Dorie Greenspan’s stuffed pumpkin recipe? It is kind of a cheesy, creamy, savory bread pudding baked inside a pumpkin. I would love to see how you would do something like that with a vegan twist! ;)

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 10, 2012

Hey Christina, Thanks so much! I haven’t seen that recipe, but I will have to check it out…sounds like it would be worth an experiment or two.

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allison September 10, 2012

to cut a squash or pumpkin easier, put it in the oven whole for 15 minutes, take out and cut…much easier on you and the knife :-)

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 10, 2012

Interesting! Do you have to wear oven mitts when you cut it or is it not too hot yet?

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allison September 10, 2012

not usually too hot yet and slices easily and can scoop out seeds easy. I always do my acorn squash and spaghetti squash like this.

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Tanya @ playful and hungry September 10, 2012

I simply love everything pumpkin!

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Samantha September 10, 2012

Wowzers! What do you think the best way to store the puree for future use is?? Canning? Freezing? And my blender is not nearly good enough to handle this (hoping santa brings us a vitamix this year) so do you think a food processor in an option?

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 10, 2012

I’ve heard pumpkin freezes really well.

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Jeanette September 10, 2012

I use my food processor to puree mine. I just cut it into chunks first. I also measure it out and freeze in quantities I use for recipes. Works great!

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Tiff (@LoveSweatBeers) September 10, 2012

It’s easy. It’s simple. Yet it’s still not as easy or simple as opening a can. ;) #lazygirl

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Kerry September 10, 2012

I’ve wanted to make my own pumpkin puree for a long time, but for some reason the whole idea intimidated me a bit. I’m so glad to see how easy it is! I’m going to make some as soon as I use up the open can of pumpkin in my fridge. I can’t wait to see the recipe you made with this!

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Moni Meals September 10, 2012

This is awesome Ang! I tried this for the first time last Fall. I actually like the skin if I can get away with it, is that weird?! :)

Great post (as always, you do such a nice job for us!) and I am a huge Fall lover and Pumpkin Fan. Let the games begin! Muhaha. ;)

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Marieke September 10, 2012

I just bought some sugar pumpkins and was curious on how to do this – Thank you!!

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Stefanie September 10, 2012

I love using this method for making large quantities of pumpkin soup.

In Switzerland, we are only allowed to put raw vegetables and fruit on the compost, nothing cooked. It may be different in Canada, I assume.

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Emily @ Greens, Eggs, & Hamstrings September 10, 2012

I first learned how to do this when we moved to Ireland and discovered there is no canned pumpkin here. I stocked up on pumpkins at Halloween and roasted 5 or 6 – we had a tupperware full of pumpkin in the freezer that lasted for the whole year!

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Michelle@Peachy Palate September 10, 2012

In pancakes of course! Or overnight oats….it’s a toss up! (Or pumpkin mac and cheese….) no wait a smoothie..clearly I’m a an addict :)

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Alexandra September 10, 2012

So happy you are posting pumpkin things! This was the first weekend I began to crave pumpkin :) pumpkin-everything here I come!!

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JenATX September 10, 2012

wow angela, your photos are awesome. I love the dark background. you can really tell you put a lot of effort into these!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 10, 2012

Aw thank you Jen! I’m really loving the darker/moodier photos lately. :)

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Ama September 10, 2012

Angela, great post. I do it slightly differently, courtesy of my dad’s traditional pumpkin-roasting techniques. I stick the knife in and make a bunch of slits around the stem and then just pop out the top- I don’t loose as much precious flesh that way as cutting off the whole top! But I will add a caveat, my husband does it for me now because it is kinda hard and dangerous for impatient (weak-armed) people like me. But hurrah for the tip from another reader about sticking the whole thing in the oven for a few to soften before cutting- maybe I’ll preheat the oven with the pumpkin in there! Thanks!

Also I put mine upside-down in a glass baking dish with a 1/2 inch or so of water. This steams it gently as it’s roasting and dramatically cuts down on cooking time. Then when I take them out of the oven, I immediately move them to drain on the cutting board (watch out, boiling water!). Not sure if this makes them more watery; I’ll have to try your way and taste test. But mine is always super flavorful and btw, Averie darling (love your blog too), canned pumpkin can’t hold a candle to fresh!!! Try it, you’ll never look back.

I’m GF, and GF pie crusts are way too time-consuming for my pie-a-day addiction every fall, so I took to making crustless pies in a lightly oiled pie pan. Then I decided I needed to make smaller portions so I wouldn’t eat it in one sitting, so I started making individual ramekins of pie. Then I upped the egg replacer and spices and used coconut milk and basically turned it into pumpkin custard! Aah I can’t wait! I also can’t wait for my 7 month old to try pumpkin; his first food was pattypan squash and he loved it! Also eating my weight in pumpkins when I was pregnant might have something to do with it. ;)

Tip for pies: add grated fresh ginger when blending the filling!! Yum. Also a bit of molasses is a must.

Look forward to pumpkin week!!!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 10, 2012

Love your comments Ama- thanks for sharing your tips! I tried the water in the pan method and you are right it does cut down on roasting time. I actually prefer the dry roasting method because – I found the boiling water really scary and difficult to handle when taking out of the pan. I was trying to remove one half and the pumpkin suctioned itself to the pan. Probably a freak thing, but I was worried I was going to get burned by the water. I’m sure if I used a deeper roasting pan, it would have been much more successful though! ;)
Fresh ginger in a pie sounds to die for!! I’ll try that with my pumpkin recipe this Thanksgiving. Thanks!

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Diana boles July 28, 2013

Please please please——tell me the best egg replacer as I am Vegan && GF. I seem to turn everything into pudding. Except my Spucy Ginger Bread cookies. But haven’t any need for eggs or a substitute

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Ama September 10, 2012

Sorry I’m such a long-winded poster. Haha. But one more thing: if you’ve never tried those beautiful white pumpkins (the kind that actually grow that way, not painted haha), they are even more buttery and delicate in things like pies! The flesh is yellowish, not too orange. Great for people that don’t like too strong of a pumpkin flavor; they’re very sweet and light! Get one!

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Di September 10, 2012

Confession – I’ve never roasted/baked or cooked any squash! Unless zucchini counts? I don’t think it does though! Anyway, thanks for the tips and pics! Definitely going to try this!!!

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Isabelle September 10, 2012

Thanks for posting this Angela, Love pumpkin (and pumpkin pie) so I’ll be on the lookout for the sugar pumpkins.
Healthy Top vegan cream substitute is perfect to replace the cream in pumpkin pie or any other dessert ;)
http://www.amazon.com/MimicCreme-Cream-Substitute-Whipped-16-Ounce/dp/B004SHQW3U/ref=sr_1_1?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1347308422&sr=1-1&keywords=healthy+top

Have you tried that? yummy?

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 10, 2012

Hey there, I havent tried that, but I have made a cream sauce using soaked almonds that turned out lovely. There are all kinds of recipes online if you are looking to make a batch yourself. Goodluck!

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Alex @ Raw Recovery September 10, 2012

Wow I haven’t had roasted pumpkin since I studied abroad in Australia! I had never had roasted pumpkin before that and I don’t think I’ve had it since. My favorite pumpkin treat is pumpkin pie. It’s a classic and I haven’t found anything that compares…ok maybe the pumpkin cream cheese muffins at Starbucks. If I had a recipe for vegan versions of that muffin I think I might explode with happiness :)

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Elly September 10, 2012

What a cute pumpkin – I would stuff it! Cut the top off, scrape out the seeds etc, then stuff with a vegetable, herb, quinoa and nut stuffing (I change what I put in every time, depending on what I have available), pop the top back on and bake. Serve with green beans or a salad. It looks impressive enough to serve at a dinner party too!

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allison September 10, 2012

ok stop! you had me at Quinoa! I’m so going to do this!!!!!

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Katie @ Fun Fearful Female September 10, 2012

I’ve always thought using fresh pumpkin was too tedious, but this tutorial makes it look really approachable. I think I’ll surprise my husband this fall by actually cooking the small pumpkins that arrive in our CSA box rather than just displaying them. Thanks for the great info!

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Julia September 10, 2012

This is great! I also love pumpkin but haven’t actually roasted a whole one before…it seems a lot like the butternut squash routine :)

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