The last pumpkin from my garden. Sniff. This pumpkin is from a plant that sprung up all on it's own -- having hidden deep in the pile of compost I had put in my new garden last spring. At the time I was a little perturbed because the vine took over half of my garden (OK, I'm exaggerating). But the few pumpkins that pollinated were hardy and long lasting. This baby looked as good as the day I picked it back in the late summer.
This pumpkin is for pumpkin bread I am making for our weekend festivities. From this small fella I got enough pureed pumpkin for 4 loaves. (Plus an adorable pile of pumpkin seeds for roasting.) In my recipe calls for one cup of pumpkin per loaf. The extra two I put in the freezer for later.
Making Pumpkin Puree
I like to steam my pumpkins and squash when I'm making something sweet, rather than roasting. This way you don't get any brown spots from roasting in the oven -- which I think has a more savory flavor. It's as simple as pie (well, easier actually) to steam pumpkin. Cut pumpkin into quarters (for a small sugar pumpkin), scrape off the seeds, and put into a large pot with about a 2 inches of water at the bottom. Put the cover on the pan and steam for about 45 minutes. Make sure you have enough water -- otherwise the results are not pretty. (Imagine burnt pumpkin cemented to the bottom of your pan.) After it cools slightly, simply scoop the soft flesh out with a large spoon into a blender or Cuisinart, leaving the skin -- which you can throw into your compost! :) Puree in the Cuisinart or blender until smooth. That's it!
Roasting Pumpkin Seeds
Rinse the seeds off in a strainer. Pat dry with a kitchen towel. Dump the seeds onto a cookie sheet. Drizzle a little olive oil over the seeds and toss around. You just want a light coat of oil on the seeds. Sprinkle kosher salt, or sea salt (or just your plain old salt) on the seeds to your liking. Also, because we have two people with Portuguese blood in our home and I like to keep traditions alive, I sprinkle a little paprika over the pumpkin seeds. (After we were married, Victor moved in with two humongous containers of paprika. He noted "We are all about the paprika!") A little grated Parmesan or Romano cheese is great too (if you're not into paprika). Roast them in the oven for 1 hour at 250 degrees F. If you can toss them around 1-2 times, that's ideal, but usually I don't get around to that.