The thing about pumpkins (besides being gloriously delicious and having to uphold their reputations as being the welcoming symbol for all things autumn and beautiful, cozy family gatherings) is that they really are very versatile. Desserts? Absolutely. Breads and morning muffins? Delicious. Risotto, soups, and other savory dishes? Even better. I mean, these puppies have been used for years. They are thought to have originated here in North America (“heyyy, home continent creds”…you have to say this while raising the roof. self-proclaimed dork) and were used by Native Americans for the obvious (food) and even for things like mats, bowls, and medicine. Early settlers made beer out of it (husband would be proud).
Okay, history lesson over. I’m sorry, I think I really am the real life Linus.
Side story: I recently was in a grocery store and was told by the cashier that I was her first pumpkin purchaser of the season. Personal claim to fame (but also got strange looks from other customers as I gave her a high-five and did what resembled the food dance).
I think it makes sense to start this pumpkin series (wait, we’re doing a pumpkin series? It seems so, self. I started to think of all these great recipes and didn’t want to limit it to just one) with the foundation for most recipes involving the gourd: roasted pumpkin purée.
Basically, all you need is one of those cute, medium sized pumpkins (not the teensy pumpkins that you used to dress up in elementary school or the large jack-o-lantern pumpkins. The large ones are certainly roastable, but the texture is stringier and has more seeds in its big ol’ head). They’re labeled in the grocery (or your fabulous local farmer’s market. please, tell me you are lucky enough to have one!) as pie pumpkins. Once you have that beauty in your possession, you are practically done (assuming you have an oven…).
pie pumpkin (approx. 2 or 3 lbs)
Preheat the oven to 350°. Vertically cut the pumpkin in half, scoop the seeds out with a spoon, and lay the pumpkin cut side down in a large baking dish. Add about 1/4″ water (it helps keep everything moist) and bake for about 50 minutes. This time could be shorter or longer based on the size of the pumpkin. Start checking the tenderness with a fork about 45 minutes into the baking. The fork should easily pierce the pumpkin.
After it has cooled enough to handle, scoop the insides of the pumpkin out into a bowl and mash it with a fork (or you could put it in a food processor…but eh, that’s a lot of dishes, ahem). Seal it up in a container (mason jar! mason jar!) and store it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.
You may ask, “Well, what about canned pumpkin?” I don’t think you can beat fresh ingredients. If you decide one day that you want to create pumpkin pie and if you don’t start baking in three seconds your mind will go spazoid and all you have is the canned stuff, just check the ingredients on the can. If it has anything other than pumpkin in it, eh. Keep looking for the can that has ONE ingredient: pumpkin.