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