How to cook a pumpkin

The cool weather is here, Thanksgiving is next week, and then the great switch; fall decor is put away and the world will be decked out in red and green.

So what are you doing with that pumpkin? Yes, the decorative one, or the little pie pumpkin on your mantel.  We Americans think of this winter squash as decor or a jack-o-lantern, and  forget that it is just as edible as the acorn and butternut variety…unless it comes in a can.

Unless it’s rotten, consider cooking it!  Pumpkin is a powerhouse of vitamins A and C, potassium, and certain B vitamins; all nutrients that can support healthy immune function and energy levels this holiday season.

You have a few options, depending on the size, type, and if you want to roast the seeds.

  1. Place it in a roasting pan, prick a few holes (do this with all squash – it prevents the steam from building up and exploding in the oven) and bake at 350 for an hour or so until a fork goes in and out smoothly.  This works great for small pumpkins, but mine were to big.
  2. Cut pumpkin into pieces, remove seeds and strings, and place into a crockpot.  This may work well for smaller pumpkins, but mine was too big and it took more than the regular 4 hours.
This is my least favorite method – it took over 4 hours on high and the pumpkin was not nearly as tender.
  1. Cut into pieces, remove seeds and strings, and place skin-side up in a roasting dish with a bit of water at the bottom.  I covered mine with foil. Bake at 350 for about an hour or until it is fork tender.  This method worked the best for us.
ready to bake!

After the pumpkin is baked, allow it to cool, peel off the skin, and blend the edible part for use in soup, pie waffles… or to freeze for your next pumpkin recipe.

For the seeds, I rinsed and dried 3 cups of them, then stirred them up with a blend of 1 tbsp turbinado sugar, a couple shakes of pink salt, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, a dash of cumin and coriander, and a dash of cayenne.  I baked them for 5 minutes, then stirred, then 7-9 minutes longer (I had 2 pans going at the same time and the bottom pan took longer in my convection oven.)

When they were slightly brown I pulled them out, then mixed 1 tbsp water, 1 tbsp butter,  1 tsp honey, and  1 tsp brown sugar.  I microwaved this until it boiled, then stirred it into the seeds.  Sweet and spicy snack or appetizer!

What are you cooking with pumpkin this season?


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