It's Pumpkin Season!
Now that pumpkin (and winter squash) season is soon approaching, it's time to start cooking so you can incorporate pumpkin into you everyday meals.
How to cook a pumpkin -- four ways
Chef Vanni suggests starting with small pumpkins, about 2 to 3 pounds each. "The smaller pumpkins are not only easier to handle, they are sweeter in taste," she adds. To get whole pumpkins ready to cook, wash them under running water and pat dry. Cut the pumpkins into large chunks and scoop out all the seeds (save them for roasting!) and stringy bits. Here are Chef Vanni's tips for cooking pumpkin.
1. Oven roasted pumpkin
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Place pumpkin chunks, skin side up, in a glass baking dish and add 1/4-inch of water. Bake, uncovered, for 45 to 60 minutes, depending on chunk sizes, until pumpkin flesh is tender. During cooktime, occasionally check pumpkin to see if need to add more water.
Place pumpkin chunks, skin side up, in a glass baking dish. Add 1/4 inch of water and cover dish with plastic wrap or wax paper, and vent. Microwave on HIGH for about 10 minutes (or about 5 minutes per pound) until pumpkin is tender.
Heat water to boiling in a saucepan that fits a steamer. Place pumpkin chunks in a steamer container and place over pan. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes or until pumpkin is tender.
Place pumpkin chunks, skin side down, in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 3 to 3-1/2 hours or until pumpkin is tender.
Though canned pumpkin puree is convenient, the flavor of fresh made pumpkin puree will turn the ordinary pumpkin soup or pumpkin pie into an extraordinary treat. Chef Vanni suggests cooking pumpkin in one of the above methods, then removing pumpkin flesh from the skin, and pureeing flesh in a blender or food processor until smooth (or chunky, if that is what you prefer).
Chef Vanni says, "Pulp keeps in the refrigerator for a week or it can also be frozen in airtight containers for 6 months, and a 2- to 3-pound pumpkin will make about 2-1/2 cups of puree."