The pumpkin It has the virtue of being a vegetable, in general, firm and dense, which becomes extremely tender and creamy when cooked. This makes it the ideal autumn vegetable for creams, soups and stews, but in the oven when it reaches its full potential. And we can choose many different ways of roasting it according to the recipe that interests us the most.
Roasting vegetables is always a good idea, an infallible resource when you don’t really know what to do with them. Although the term only refers to the technique of cooking food at high temperatures for an indeterminate time, nowadays it is popularly understood to be cooked in the oven. The roast concentrates and enhances the flavors, developing new nuances, creating textural contrasts and caramelizing the exteriors. And it is one of the simplest, most comfortable and versatile cooking systems that we can do at home.
Pumpkin, in particular, is a vegetable that lends itself like few others for baking. Perhaps it has to do with the season, the first cold weeks and the gray and darkest days, when the heat from the oven comforts the home and stomachs. But it is also its physical and organoleptic characteristics that allow us to get a lot out of it when we decide to roast it.
The techniques may be somewhat different depending on the variety of pumpkin that we use, but, broadly speaking, all the ones that we are going to review below are well adapted to the most common types of our markets. All this with the absolute queen, the pumpkin butternut, violin or peanut, as a great reference.
Three easy and quick baked recipes, to eat well without messing up
Whole and unpeeled
Roasting the whole pumpkin we save ourselves having to peel it and we ensure a juicy, tender pulp with concentrated flavors and juices. It will take longer, especially with very large specimens, but the work is minimal.
You just have to wash it well, prick it a little with a knife to let the steam escape, and place it in the preheated oven at about 215-220º C. A medium size will need about 30 minutes, also depending on the doneness we are looking for. It may be advisable to turn it halfway through cooking, so that it is done evenly.
If the pumpkin has very thin skin, it is not unreasonable to eat it. A small tasting will give us the clue of whether it is pleasant or if we will have to remove it. In any case, it is much easier to open the roasted pumpkin, scoop out the seeds and extract the pulp. as if it were an avocado mature.
We can take the tender meat as it is, well seasoned, or add it to sauces, fillings, stews, pasta dishes … It becomes a good substitute for bechamel or potato, and you can combine both tubers, adding some butter and / or milk, to make a rich garnish puree.
And if we grind it well so that no fibers remain, then draining the water overnight on a cheesecloth or cloth, we will obtain the perfect pumpkin puree for recipes of pastry and bakery. Concentrated, thick, with great flavor and with an intense color, ideal for a sponge cake, a cake or muffins and cupcakes.
It is the most common way of roasting pumpkin for the same uses as in the previous case, with the exception that we will obtain a different texture on the cut side of the vegetable. If we are going to grind it, we must ensure that it does not brown or caramelize too much, as it could form a crust.
To take it as a garnish it is better to place the halves face up, well seasoned and seasoned, precisely letting them gratin, keeping the innermost meat very juicy and tasty. When placing them face down directly on the tray We can also obtain a toasted effect if we paint them with oil, but put them on hydrated parchment paper with a little water to prevent them from browning excessively.
The squash will be best cut by removing the peduncle from the top end first. You have to use a very sharp large blade knife, a wide table, and extreme precautions. For more safety, we can cook it for 7-8 minutes in the microwave, piercing the skin, to soften it.
The seeds and filaments can be removed raw, although it will be easier to do so once roasted. As for the temperature, we can lower it to 200ºC.
Halves to fill
When making a cut in the opposite direction to the previous one, we will separate the more elongated end of the peanut type, leaving the most rounded and hollow base. If they are more cylindrical pumpkins, we will simply obtain two almost identical halves; in the case of the rounded and flat varieties, we can cut the upper “cap”.
Depending on the specific shape and size, we will also find peanut squash suitable for filling with a longitudinal cut; those of smaller size are usually more suitable. If they do not have enough space inside, we can grill them first to remove the pulp and combine it, totally or partially, with the filling. The round specimens can be cut in any direction.
So we can fill the pumpkin and use it as a bowl, in the style of peppers, tomatoes or zucchini. The only nuisance will be extract the seeds and filaments without wasting pulp; then we can roast them first without filling, with some oil, salt and spices, until it begins to be tender.
It only remains to add the stuffed (Ratatouille, bechamel, hummus, quinoa, rice, couscous, Bolognese sauce …), cover with cheese, if necessary, and gratin.
Slices and half moons
The more elongated pumpkins They present solid bodies before reaching the base, more hollow and with the seeds. A quick, easy and practical way to cut it for roasting is by slicing it, peeled or not previously.
We must ensure that they have the same thickness or they won’t be cooked evenly. They are ideal to use as a toast or canapé base, and also to make fake pizzas. You always have to bake them alone, seasoned, until they are no longer raw, before covering with tomato sauce and cheese, or the ingredients you want.
Whether shaped like a slice or strip, cutting them extremely thin we can simulate healthier chips than fried ones. To enhance the crunchiness, you have to leave them resting with a good handful of salt on a colander, and then dry them very, very well. They can be painted or sprayed with oil.
They are baked at 160º-170ºC with a fan -if possible-, for about 15-20 minutes, keeping an eye on them to do not burn. They will also serve us to mount millefeuille or add them to a vegetable tian, for example, superimposing them with other vegetables of similar cut.
Peeled or unpeeled wedges
This cut is perfect when we want serve as garnish but we are lazy -or afraid- to peel it. In addition, the skin will help it taste better, and it is very easy to remove once the segments are roasted and tender. The seeds can also be removed after baking, very easily.
To give it more flavor, just add a few aromatic herb branches fresh, such as rosemary or thyme, lemon wedges, peppercorns, whole garlic cloves, or a few unpeeled shallots. If the segments are thicker, we can use them as a base to crown a small filling, better if it can be scooped out, such as hummus, baba ganush or any other dip-
To cut a pumpkin into elongated sticks we will need a little more skill with the knife. First we will have to peel it well, and then separate large pieces that we can divide to remove the sticks.
Ideally, they should have a homogeneous size and thickness, in the style of these sweet potato sticks or ordinary fries. They will roast quickly, at 190-200 ° C. They are tastier if we season them well before the oven, and if we try to preserve a certain firmer texture.
Cubes or dice
The classic garnish cut, also to add to other later recipes. As in the previous case, you have to take your time in peel, cut, gin and chop the vegetable into pieces of a similar size.
For a garnish we will want bite-sized cubes, which can be even smaller if we are looking for a finer presentation. If we are going to mash the pumpkin later, for example for a gratin or a puree, they can be much larger pieces, like tacos; they will simply need more oven time.
Again, they will gain in flavor when roasted with other aromatic ingredients: herbs, spices, whole garlic, chili peppers, soy sauce, etc. For a very autumnal garnish, we can add pieces of apple and / or pear, cooked chestnuts or seeds and a variety of nuts.
Not only can we take advantage of the pumpkin as a garnish; It is a great ingredient to keep in the fridge and to enrich salads, dishes with rice or couscous, stir-fries or vegetable dishes.
The elongated and finer varieties lend themselves wonderfully to replicating the cut of hasselback potatoes. The tubers are not peeled, but the squash must be left untouched on the outside; the easiest thing is to use a manual peeler.
As in crude it is very hard, it will facilitate the task briefly roast it first, turning the two halves face down on the tray, just until it begins to be tender. Then we will be able to practice the parallel cuts along its entire surface, always perpendicular to the pumpkin, and without going through it completely.
Then it is necessary to wash it with olive oil or spread butter flakes, garnish it generously using herbs or spices, and give, to taste, a touch of cheese or honey. Finally it is baked again until it is done. Watch that it does not go over, or it will become so tender that it will lose the presence of the cuts.
Photos | iStock – Unsplash – Pixabay
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