Smashing pumpkins. It may be a band name and a vandal’s badge of Halloween infamy, but around this time of year I picture more of a British exclamation, “Smashing! Pumpkins?!” It’s the expression of my proud, mental high-five for making the move from canned pumpkins to fresh, as well as the internal bewilderment over why I didn’t do it earlier.
Pumpkins are so often viewed as ornamental, but they offer us so much more in terms of health benefits between their Vitamin C and beta carotene rich flesh, possible anti-cancer and immune boosting properties, and their seeds which have multiple health benefits. When you turn that beauty into a dessert, you can almost feel giddy about getting your fruit (though we think of it as a vegetable since it isn’t naturally sweet) that way.
My former sister-in-law told me that sugar pumpkins were easy to use and that her husband couldn’t go back to eating canned pumpkin after the first time she baked with them. I owe her one, especially since I’ve succumbed to feeding Daniel vegetables in the form of pouches and desserts just to get them into his body. I’m a little desperate.
I put up an unadulterated picture of a naked roasted pumpkin to show you how not intimidating it is to cook and use them. You can almost palm these pumpkins, and somehow this feels good to someone my size who has never been able to palm a basketball. I palmed the peeling in this shot to remove it.
This is the easiest method I know to use sugar pumpkins. If you have any others, let me know. (I suppose, on a rushed day, I might put the whole pumpkin in and slice it open after it roasts if slicing it presents a challenge.)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Wash and dry the pumpkins with paper towels.
- Holding the pumpkin steady with one hand at the base of the stem, press it against a cutting board and use the tip of your knife to cut into the center.
- Moving the knife horizontally across the equator of the pumpkin. The stem of the pumpkin should be north of your knife and the base of the pumpkin south of it.
- Leave the peel on!
- Scoop out the seeds and save them (cook separately using “Mary’s Method-to come in the recipe section soon)
- Stick the pumpkin halves on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper if you don’t want a lot to clean up at the end.
- Roast the pumpkins until they are tender between 30-45 minutes.
- Remove the peeling from each pumpkin half. In the photo above, we were able to lift the peeling off completely with no fuss.
- Puree the pumpkin in the blender.
- Use the puree in any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin. Be careful of waterlogged pumpkins which may need to be cooked down more before use in lieu of canned pumpkins.
- Warning: Don’t use your decorative pumpkins that you would normally carve into Jack-o-lanterns for this use, because they aren’t suited for dessert applications.
Last Thursday, we made hand held pumpkin filo desserts. They didn’t have the depth of pumpkin pie or the super smooth mouthfeel, because it doesn’t have a custard-like base (hence, it is also short several calories and grams of fat), but they were very good (even Daniel ate them). I appreciated the ability to do something different with pumpkins during the Thanksgiving season. We omitted the powdered sugar but added freshly whipped cream (of course, we added back in the fat we missed), and Daniel loved them! When we finished making them, I could see the link between this Greek dessert and modern day fast food chain, hand held pies but these are, of course, a better option.
Next time, I’ll post the roasted pumpkin seed recipe and the pumpkin chocolate chip cookie recipe from Saucy Boy, so stayed tuned.
Wishing you many blessings this Thanksgiving, lots of fun, peace of heart and mind; and good health around your table, Rufina