One of the best things about late fall and winter is this sun-colored yellow vegetable, which we love in all shapes and forms – but how do we roast pumpkin, so it turns out the tastiest?
First of all, there are many different types of pumpkin. The elongated butter pumpkin is the most common, followed by the grey, round, thick-skinned variety and finally the Hokkaido, which is smaller and completely round.
The latter has a flavor similar to chestnuts, and it’s a shame to do anything with it other than roast it. The other two varieties are suitable for every kind of recipe from soups and pies to meat dishes and, of course, desserts. Therefore, the answer to the question in the title is to prepare pumpkins according to what you want to use them for.
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To peel or not to peel
While the skin of butter pumpkins is easy to remove, round, thick-skinned pumpkins are a pain to peel, especially when raw. After roasting, the skin is easy to remove while still warm; once it has cooled, it’s definitely not worth the effort if you want to avoid an injury. So, if you want to roast or cook pumpkin without the skin, you should choose butter pumpkin.
Oven or pan
Pumpkin should be roasted in the oven most of the time unless you want a really showy result. When you want to make a snack out of pumpkin pieces or you want firmer pieces to mix into a salad, it’s better to cut the flesh up and roast the pieces in a single layer in a thick-bottomed pan, to ensure that the pieces don’t turn into a mush.
If you are going to use the pumpkin flesh in pureed form for soups, sauces, or as an ingredient of a cake, it is sufficient to cut the flesh into larger pieces and place the pieces on a baking tray or baking sheet. Roasting this way will result in the most powerful and delicious flavor. But when you use pumpkin in salads or side dishes, it’s best to cut it into cubes and be careful not to overcook. This method also works if you’re in a hurry and want to soften the pumpkin in about 20 minutes, as larger chunks will soften more slowly if cooked in the skin.
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Pumpkin can be cooked at a temperature of up to 220 degrees Celsius in a large piece, but if cut into smaller pieces, 200 degrees is enough. When you want to caramelize the edges a little, you can turn on the fan, but only for a short time. Pumpkin takes about half an hour to soften when cut into cubes, while up to 45-60 minutes are necessary for larger pieces to cook completely. Of course, this is not an exact figure; the cooking time depends on the type of pumpkin, its age, storage conditions and so on; all you can do is watch it while roasting or coking, try the flesh with a fork or a toothpick, and if it’s soft, remove the pumpkin from the heat.
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The wonderful thing about pumpkin is that you can prepare it in Italian, Arabic or Indian style, season it with spices such as curry, turmeric, cumin, ginger or other herbs; no matter which recipe you use, it will taste wonderful and will surprise you in every version. Pumpkin also goes really well with various flavorings such as soy sauce or tahini, and it is excellent with a variety of different flavored cheeses: moldy blue cheese, Parmesan and feta or a crumbled goat’s cheese will bring out its sweet base flavor in a different way.