Winter is here. I mean real winter. Not that slightly cooler than Hates hot winter of my native Arizona. Instead, it’s that put on your thickest jacket, pull up your knee high boots, and use the seat warmers in your car kind of winter, complete with deciduous trees and everything. To celebrate, I thought I would try my hand at cooking with real pumpkin, because apparently the canned stuff is really just a winter squash amalgamation. And, lucky me, my local Kroger, or Fry’s as we call it in Arizona, was swimming with fresh, edible pumpkin options. I chose to use the Sugar Pumpkin variety, which is much easier to seed and cut. Plus, it yields less bitter flavors.
As I intend to use these roasted pumpkin cubes for a variety of recipes, I made them only semi-sweet. Additionally, I added turmeric for both its earthy flavor as well as the orange tint it adds to the pumpkin flesh. I cooked my pumpkin in small cubes at a high temp for a short amount of time, which ensured the flesh would be soft but not turn to mush at the slightest touch. This makes it easier to reuse the pumpkin in a salad or pasta, but also for it to be cooked down further for a soup or pie puree.
Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think! The first thing I made once the cubes cooled was an arugula, goat cheese salad, topped with raw walnuts, pomegranate seeds, homemade rosemary bread croutons, and a light creamy balsamic dressing. Yum!
1 to 2 lb small sugar pumpkin
2 to 3 tbl olive oil
1 tbl brown sugar (optional, without pumpkin will be more savory)
½ tbl turmeric powder
½ tbl cinnamon powder
1 tps nutmeg powder
½ tbl butter, unsalted
Make pumpkin cubes first then set aside. To do so,
- Preheat oven to 400˚.
- Cut off the top of the pumpkin and remove seeds from inside. Cut pumpkin into 4 or 8 wedges, like you would oranges for a snack.
- Peel the skin off of the wedges. Some people say online that the skin is soft and does not need to be removed, but it does. Trust me. When you roast it with the skin on, you may find a lingering bitter taste after eating the pumpkin.
- Cube the peeled pumpkin flesh. Toss the removed skin.
- Into a medium size bowl, dump the cubed pumpkin. Drizzle the olive oil over the pumpkin. Toss Pumpkin until fully coated. Sprinkle the spices over oiled cubes. Toss until coated.
- Pour the now spiced cubes onto your roasting pan. I like to line my roasting pans with foil for easier cleanup, but that is up to you.
- Put the roasting pan into the oven and set timer for 15 minutes. Check pumpkin after 15 minutes. Toss on pan with spatula to make sure it is not sticking. Then, put back into the oven for another 5 or 10 minutes. You want the pumpkin meat to be soft and tender, but not mushy. It needs to hold its constitution in the pasta.
- Remove from oven. Use spatula to scoop pumpkin into a clean bowl. Add butter and stir gently until butter is melted. Set aside for later. Can be used to garnish a winter salad, to make pumpkin and green apple oatmeal, to top a sherry cream sauce pasta, or as a puree for pumpkin soup or pie. Also, freezes well for later use.