Monday, October 20, 2008

What's for dinner, Pumpkin Puree and Toasted Pumkpkin Seeds

When we went to the pumpkin patch this year, we picked up several pumpkins specifically to cook with.

The smaller pumpkins are actually better to cook with. When they get big they get grainy and not as tasty. The pumpkins we used were specifically called "pie pumpkins"

Before you do anything, you need to get into the pumpkins:
* Take a sharp knife, cut off the top
* Cut the pumpkin in half
* Scoop out the seeds and pumpkin guts and throw those in a bowl to be sorted later. An ice cream scoop seemed to do the best job.
Here's my sister, Tara, and her daughter, Shelby, helping with the pumpkins. This was just before they were allured away by the enticement of painting pumpkins and abandoned me to do the cooking by myself.

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

(Yes, this is a very small little dish of pumpkin seeds. It was all that was left by the time I got a chance to take a picture. Those ravenous little beasts (aka "children" on some days) consumed several pounds of pepitas before I could even take a lens cap off)

* Remove the pumpkin pulp from the seeds
* Rinse the seeds
* Preheat oven to 250
* Spray a cooking sheet with nonstick spray
* Spread out the seeds in a single layer
* Coat the seeds with seasonings of your choice
* Let bake in the oven about 20-30 minutes- until they start to turn light golden brown
* Remove from cooking sheet, taste, and toss with any additional seasonings

You can keep it really simple and just add salt (lots of salt!). I used a popcorn seasoning mix of white cheddar, garlic, and sea salt from Williams Sonoma. It's a bit pricey for the can, but yummy and convenient. You can also check the popcorn aisle for other popcorn seasoning blends. Or, spice it up and use cayenne pepper, cajun seasoning, or jalapeno seasoning. Use your imagination.

The results
These were a HUGE hit with the kids! They loved them!

Er, one just more thing...
Without ruining the moment of the yumminess that is pumpkin seeds, let me just give a word of advice. If you have a kid in diapers that attends daycare, give the child the pumpkin seeds on a day when the daycare will get to deal with the diaper the following day and not you. That's all I'm going to say about that.

Pumpkin puree

* Preheat oven to 350
* Cut the cleaned pumpkin halves into thirds or fourths, lay them on a baking sheet.
* Cook for about 45 minutes (until nice and tender)
* Remove the pumpkin from the skin (this is really easy to do- it just falls right off after cooking)
* Throw the roasted pumpkin in the food processor (you'll have to do this in batches) and pulse until pureed.
* It will last in the fridge for several days or you can freeze it for later. I would recommend that you freeze it in ziploc bags in 2 cup quantities since that is about the equivalent of one can of pumpkin puree that many recipes are based off of.

That's all there is too it. I don't recommend seasoning or oiling it because you want this in its pure form to be used in recipes later.

I let it sit in a bowl and use a paper towel to soak up any water that comes to the surface so that it is a bit of a thicker texture. If you want thinner, you can add a little water to the food processor when pureeing.

I attempted to buy a few more pumpkins labeled "pie pumpkins" from Walmart in addition to the ones we bought from the pumpkin patch. The Walmart ones were so tough, there wasn't a single knife in my collection of Henkles up to the task. I'm not even sure a hack saw would do it. Instead, some simply got painted for Halloween fun and a few got tossed into the back yard to see if we might see some pumpkin vines grow along the fence one day. But I think those suckers are petrified so they'll probably still be whole 20 years from now. They will be used in a game of lawn bowling when our kids have kids.

What can't you use pumpkin puree for? There is (in a Bubba Gump voice): pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin waffles, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin soup, pumpkin butter, pumpkin dip. Recipes for pumpkin bread and pumpkin dip to follow soon.

For Bailey, I took the pure pumpkin puree, added a little pumpkin pie spice, and she loved it. She had it several times over the week. It's such a healthy and straight from the garden option. I even noshed on several pieces of roasted pumpkin myself. It was kind of a "one for me, one for the food processor" thing as I ate myself silly of just plain old pumpkin. Who knew it could be so tasty?


Bre said...

...just went to the pumpkin patch yesterday with my kids.

They still enjoy going every year even though they're 10,12 and 15 now.

We take the same pictures in the same place so it's fun to see how they've changed.

Thanks for the recipes
I'm sure I'll be able to them : )

from a SITSta

Michelle said...

Hmm. I may not go for the plain pumpkin, but many thanks for the heads up on what to do with a pumpkin. Sadly ummm I've never known :)

And YUM to the seeds. I love pumpkin seeds. And pumpkin donuts... I may have to make those this year since Halloween is *just* about on the weekend. Still my favorite (and just about only) way to eat pumpkin.

Haasiegirl said...

im really impressed with this!


Joanna said...

The cute little pumpkins that are sitting on the coffee table are feeling a little bit uncomfortable right now. They are wondering just what I might do to them. I've got the Henkles ready, but I may just have to make a trip to WS for some seasoning. Thanks for the ideas.

Aly said...

Hmm! I would never have thought to toast pumpkin seeds. Looks like the two pumpkins we picked up at the pumpkin patch are in trouble now!

Mama Mia said...

I love pumpkin seeds, we are going to toast some this weekendd....

glassbeadfairy said...

don't forget pumpkin CHEESECAKE!!!!!!! yummmmm.

Steph said...

Yum, now I'm hungry for pumpkin seeds!

London said...

Thanks so much for posting this! We just got pumpkins from the pumpkin patch and I am toasting my seeds right now!

Rebecca said...

YUM YUM! Roasted seeds are my fav! Send some my way!

I nominated you for an award over on my blog. I love reading your blog!

Kelly Deneen said...

Great idea to use popcorn seasonings for pumpkin seeds! Maybe I will be brave enough to try some this year. :)

Amanda @ notsoextraordinary said...

nice, i'd love to try it! the picture of the pumpkin seeds is really nice, i love the towel you used behind it