I love pumpkin-flavored things, and I’m not talking about the latte-variety. Two years ago, during my semester abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, I joined a farming co-op that in the winter months delivered bags of vegetables to my door. The co-op specialized in seasonal vegetables that could withstand the freezing Scandinavian fall, so I ate way too many beets and pumpkins from August through December of 2012. My roommates and I made use of our pumpkins with pastas, soups, and some failed attempts at pumpkin cookies, but the experience made me realize how over-looked actual pumpkins are for the amount of “pumpkin spiced” things stocked in Trader Joe’s this season.
In honor of my favorite fall food, I’ll be taking apart a pumpkin one piece at a time to show you how to make an entire meal (appetizer, entrée, and dessert) with one five-pound pumpkin, starting with the seeds! Prep: Prepping a pumpkin for cooking isn’t the newspaper-on-the-floor ordeal that carving a pumpkin can be, but it definitely requires some brute effort and elbow grease. The good news is, all you need is a good knife and a spoon (though the process took me nearly two hours!).
- The first step is to cut the pumpkin in half (since you won’t be carving it, you can be pretty aggressive with the cutting). It’s tough to get the knife in at first, but once you do it will become much easier!
- Once cut in half, scoop out the seeds with a spoon until the seeds and most of the stringy insides are cleaned out. It’s not necessary to get it perfectly clean since you can cut bits of the string off later.
- Once cut in half, I found it helpful to separate pumpkin into halves, then cut the skin off of each of these slices. Because the skin is so tough, make sure to cut towards the cutting board with a sharp knife.
- After skinning the pumpkin, cut the meat into bite sized pieces.
- Once you’ve prepped the pumpkin and rinsed the seeds of all the pumpkin gunk, place the seeds in a medium saucepan with 2 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of salt per half cup of seeds, and bring the mixture to a boil. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spread the seeds out over the roasting pan in a single layer, and drizzle and toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and rosemary. Bake on the top rack until the seeds begin to brown, 5-20 minutes. When lightly browned (this can happen all of a sudden), remove the pan from the oven and let cool on a rack.