How to Slay a Pumpkin
Now, before you all run out in search of fresh pumpkins, let me warn you by saying that nothing beats pure pumpkin in a can. As much as it pains me to admit that something you can buy in a can is superior to the fresh item — even when the fresh item has just been plucked from the patch where it grew — I believe it is the truth in this case. However, should you find yourself with extra fall decorations on your hands, you might as well take advantage of their nutritional value.
The pumpkin houses three delicious parts with food potential: flesh, skin, and seeds. While you can certainly prepare it as you would another type of squash and stuff it or serve it in some other semi-intact form, the puree method is what I prefer for pumpkin. (Note: Slaying a 5-pound pumpkin is decidedly easier than slaying a 25-pound pumpkin. Make sure your eyes are not bigger than your cutting instruments. Also, even if your pumpkin has been hanging around for 6+ months like mine, it’s perfectly acceptable to cook and eat as long as it hasn’t turned mushy and rotten.)
Pumpkin Flesh Procedure:
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Slice pumpkin into two big pieces however you can.
3. Scoop out and remove seeds. Save the seeds. Don’t worry about getting rid of the stringy “goop” that surrounds them — it’s fine to eat.
4. Hack the pumpkin into chunks. Place the chunks face-down in a baking dish with less than a centimeter of water in the bottom.
5. Roast in oven for 20-30 minutes until flesh is fork-tender.
6. Once the pumpkin is cool enough to touch, use a fork to mash/scrape the flesh off of the skin. Save the skin. If the pumpkin flesh is still stringy (like spaghetti squash), it needs to bake a little bit longer.
7. Once all flesh is removed from the skin, place it in a bowl and blend further with an immersion blender (or use a food processor) until desired consistency.
8. Store puree in containers in fridge or freezer, depending on when you plan to use it.
Pumpkin Skins Procedure:
1. Keep oven at 450.
2. Tear pumpkin skins into chip-sized pieces and place in a large bowl.
3. Mix with desired seasonings. I like to use coarse sea salt, sugar in the raw, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon.
4. Place skins on foil-lined baking sheet, outer-skin-side-down.
5. Bake in oven until crispy, about 15 minutes. Check often to make sure they’re not burning.
6. If you don’t eat them all right away, store in a container in the fridge. Re-toast in oven when you plan to eat them because they are best hot and crispy.
Pumpkin Seeds Procedure:
1. Keep oven at 450.
2. Mix pumpkin seeds with desired seasoning blend (again, I use coarse sea salt, cayenne, sugar in the raw, and cinnamon).
3. Spread seeds on foil-lined baking sheet and bake until crispy, about 15 minutes. Give the tray a shake halfway through to ensure even-ish toasting.
4. Store seeds in fridge until ready to use.