Fall is officially here! To welcome my favorite season, yesterday I baked three pie pumpkins from the garden. I love pumpkins, and not just because their presence indicates my birthday finally approaching. I saved a bit of the pumpkin to cook for dinner and baked the rest for pies and what not.
I tried two ways to bake the pumpkin as a test to see the easiest way to remove the skin. For both I cut the pumpkins in half and scooped out the seeds and stringy stuff.
For pumpkin 1 I left the pumpkin in two halves with the skin on. I placed it in a baking dish with a 1/4 inch of water (to prevent burning and sticking) and baked at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes, until it was fork tender. I let it cool and then removed the peel. My hands got messy and the peel stuck in places so I still needed to use a vegetable peeler to get it off, but it didn't require the hand strength that pumpkin 2 below did.
For Pumpkin 2 I cut each pumpkin half into wedges and removed the peel with a vegetable peeler. Then I cut it into large chunks and placed in a baking dish with 1/4 inch of water. I baked at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. This was by far the easier and less messy route, and it doesn't require that much hand strength, only slightly more than a carrot or apple. However, I could see if you had arthritis or carpal tunnel or some other issue, this might not be easier.
Regardless of which method you use to bake your pumpkin, you end up still needing to process it for a recipe. I tried the food mill first and didn't really get anywhere so I switched over to my favorite kitchen appliance... the Kitchen Aid Food Processor. Yes, it is a spendy little critter, but it is worth every single penny in my book! Of course there are more frugal options out there, but if you are going to use your food processor like I do, I say bigger is better and get one that will last! But I digress, constantly, I digress, but again that is me digressing... so back on topic. I didn't want to use the 'S' blade since that can sometimes liquefy, so I instead opted for the plastic blade that I think is used for pie crusts or other pastry. This worked great! You have to stop and scrape the bowl several times, but it keeps everything a good texture.
Three medium sized pie pumpkins gave me about 14 cups of puree. I measured it out into 2 cup portions, glopped it neatly into vacuum freezer bags, and vacuum sealed it all up. To keep things neat and tidy, I folded the edge of the freezer bags over a clean quart container for yogurt. This allowed for easier packaging because I only have two hands, instead of the required three used in putting pumpkin into a bag... one to hold the bag open, one to hold the measuring cup of pumpkin and one to scrape the pumpkin from the measuring cup.
Of course, you can avoid all the above hassle by purchasing cans of pumpkin. Personally, I'm satisfied with my $1.29 for one pumpkin plant, knowing it is organic, and far superior taste. It is more work, but it's not complicated and it doesn't take that much time. Another benefit of processing your own pumpkins is the seeds!
To prepare your pumpkin seeds, wash them off under cool water in a strainer and remove any pulp. You don't have to be excruciatingly picky about getting the pulp out, or you can be if that's your style. Most of it bakes down to nothing noticeable. Once you have your seeds rinsed and drained, pour out onto a towel and get them dried off. The basic recipe at this point is to lightly coat with vegetable oil (olive has a strong flavor) or a bit of butter, and lightly salt. Spread onto a baking sheet and roast at 275 degrees for about an hour, stirring a couple of times while roasting. It's tempting to stick one in your mouth fresh out of the oven, but I would advise you to wait a few minutes... trust me on this.
3 cups pumpkin seed
3 TBSP Butter
1 tsp Seasoning Salt
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1/4 tsp Onion Powder
1 1/2 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce
Melt butter. Stir seasoning salt, garlic powder, onion powder and Worcestershire into melted butter. Mix butter mixture with pumpkin seeds to coat. Pour onto a baking sheet and spread out evenly. Roast at 275 degrees for about one hour, stirring every 20 minutes.
Now after all that cooking, I was hungry, and after all that reading, you are finally getting to the point of today's post:
Caramelized Pumpkin Pasta!
for 2 servings:
2 cups raw pumpkin, cubed into 1 inch pieces
1 medium yellow or sweet onion, sliced into 1/4" rings
6 fresh mushrooms, quartered
1/4 cup packed fresh sage leaves julienned (about 6 large leaves)
5 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
Pinch of nutmeg
1/2 - 1 TBSP Olive Oil
2 TBSP Butter + 3 TBSP Butter
Mizithra cheese or Parmesean
Spaghetti noodles or Spaghetti squahs, how much depends on how hungry you are :)
Add olive oil to a small pan over med-low heat, and place garlic slices in pan in a single layer. Cook until barely starting to turn golden. Watch carefully as you don't want to over cook. This takes about 20 minutes.
Add 2 TBSP butter to large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add in sliced onions and pumpkin. Cook for about 5 minutes and place mushrooms on top. Ccook for about 10 minutes. Turn pumpkin pieces to brown on other side and give onions a slight stir to prevent burning. Add sage and nutmeg, cover. Cook for about 10 minutes more, or until onions and pumpkin are caramelizing. Pour garlic and oil over pumpkin mix and turn of heat.
In the small pan that had the garlic, add the 3 TBSP butter and cook over med-high heat until butter begins to brown. Remove from heat.
To serve, place spaghetti in a bowl, top with some cheese, spoon brown butter over top. Place pumpkin and onion mixture on top and cover with more cheese. Enjoy.