When Halloween rolls around I buy lots of pumpkins but I rarely carve them. Instead I use them for decoration just as they are. The orange orbs will grace my front porch, adding fall color and a spot of sunshine from October until the end of November. At the end of that time I’ll extend their usefulness by bringing them in, roasting them and then making all kinds of yummy treats for the holidays.
The pumpkins in these photos are Sugar Pumpkins but any type of pumpkin, or even squash, will do. To roast them you just cut them in half (or smaller pieces if the pumpkin is very large), clean out the seeds, place them on a pan and put them in the oven at 350°F or 375°F and bake until very tender. You can roast them either cut side up or down. The advantage to placing them cut side down, is that they will steam themselves a little which will loosen the skin from the flesh making them amazingly easy to peel. But even where the steam hasn’t forced its way in, all you need to do is scoop the flesh, much as you would a baked potato.
Then you will need to mash or puree the flesh to get it as smooth as possible. I use my food processor which has the added advantage of handling any stringy parts I may have missed when cleaning the pumpkin. If you mash by hand just be on the lookout and remove anything that looks too fibrous.
Once the pumpkin is pureed it can be used in baked goods, pastas, soups – its limited only by your imagination! At this time of year I most often use it to make Pumpkin Date Bread. This is a really moist and fragrant bread. It just oozes holiday happiness! Any leftover pumpkin can be frozen and used at a later date. I generally freeze 2 cup packages, as that’s the most common measurement for most of the recipes I make.
Pumpkin Date Bread
Adapted from Betty Crocker’s Christmas Cookbook
2 ½ cups sugar
⅔ cup vegetable oil
16 oz pumpkin
⅔ cup water
3 ⅓ cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
½ tsp baking powder
¾ cup chopped nuts
¾ cup chopped dates
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottoms only of two loaf pans, 9x5x3 inches or three loaf pans, 8x4x2.
Mix sugar, oil, eggs, pumpkin and water in large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into pans.
Bake until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 60 – 70 minutes. Cool slightly and then loosen sides of loaves from pan and cool on wire racks. Wait until completely cool to slice.