Browsing in the library yesterday, I picked up a book written by the folks who produce Real Simple magazine. The whole thing was about how to clean your house. I flipped through, hoping to find the antidote to my crumb-riddled kitchen floor, but even 10 seconds with that book was too much. If I have time to read a book about housecleaning, someone needs to smack me upside the head.
So it's with a fair measure of shame and embarrassment that I devote today's post to roasting your own pumpkin. In recognition of where this should fall on your priority list, I offer the following (in descending order of importance):
1) Feed any children and/or animals who reside in your home.
3) Work / go to school / volunteer/ take care of wee ones.
4) Read 800 articles about swine flu vaccine / stress about whether to get your swine flu vaccine/ get angry that there's no swine flu vaccine. Repeat.
5) Roast a pumpkin.
6) Read a book about housecleaning.
So there you go.
But roasting a pumpkin is actually pretty fun, because then your fridge is filled with all this pumpkin puree and you're required, actually obligated, to make all kinds of pumpkiny things: pies, muffins, cakes, custards. If you just rely on the cans, it's too easy to push them to the back of the cupboard and eat Ho Hos instead.
Here are some things you can make with your roasted, pureed pumpkin:
Pumpkin Mini Pies in a whole wheat ginger crust (from 5SR)
Pumpkin Quick Bread with cranberries and walnut meal (from 5SR)
Pumpkin Mascarpone Cheesecake (from Streaming Gourmet)
Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream (from Christie's Corner)
Spice-Kissed Pumpkin Pie (from 101 Cookbooks)
Spicy Pumpkin Soup (from Simply Recipes)
Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Maple and Pecans (from Food Blogga)
Whole Wheat Olive Oil Pumpkin Bread (from Recipe Girl)
You'll see, below, that it takes nothing but a strong arm, a sturdy knife, and an oven to roast a pumpkin. A food processor, I'll admit, is a definite bonus, unless you want to floss your teeth with pumpkin strings, which I'd put as #6 on my list above, moving "reading a book about housecleaning" down to #7. Just FYI.
Recipe for Homemade Roasted Pumpkin Puree
The recipe below calls for roasting one 4-pound sugar pumpkin, because that's what I did. But I beg you to roast 2 smaller pumpkins instead. It's very difficult to cut through the big ones, and if you get your knife stuck inside the thing you'll have to wait for your husband to come home and unjam it, which can take hours. It's also embarrassing, but less embarrassing than accidentally impaling yourself, which is what may have happened had you tried to remove the thing yourself, and slipped.
One 4-pound sugar pumpkin (*see headnote)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Using a heavy knife, cut the pumpkin in half. Use a serrated grapefruit spoon (if you happen to have one) or a regular spoon to scrape out the seeds and all the strings. Discard. (I'm not a fan of toasted pumpkin seeds, but feel free to clean and roast them separately if you are.)
Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and coat it with nonstick spray. Lay the pumpkin halves cut side down, and roast for 50-60 minutes or until the peel is wrinkled and the flesh is very tender. (See photo, upper right.) If you're roasting 2 smaller pumpkins, check them earlier as they won't take as long to cook.
Cool slightly, then scrape out the flesh, or, alternatively, just slip off the peel and cut the pumpkin into large chunks (See photo, lower right.) You can dice the chunks for use in stews, soups, or risottos.
To puree for baking, transfer chunks to a food processor and whirl until smooth. Stop the machine and scrape the sides a few times. It will take 2 to 3 minutes to get the pumpkin smooth.
N.B. LATE ADDITION! Set cooled puree in a cheesecloth-lined strainer over a large bowl in the refrigerator overnight -- or longer -- to drain it of excess liquid. (Fold some cheesecloth over the top and cover the whole mess with plastic wrap, too.) Store cooled puree in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or freeze in 1 to 2 -cup quantities for future use.
Makes 5-1/2 cups puree.