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Pumpkin Roasting Tips

Posted on Tuesday, October 10, 2023
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by AMAC, D.J. Wilson
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Pumpkin roast with berries next to pan and seeds

What exactly are pumpkins?

Pumpkins are fruits that belong to the winter squash family. They are often referred to as healthy vegetables because they contain many of the same health benefits as vegetables. Pumpkins are packed with nutrients to include fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They also contain micronutrients such as beta carotene and Vitamin A. And, as a bonus, they are low in calories. Let’s learn more about pumpkins, including pumpkin roasting tips!

But first, some historical tidbits!

Pumpkins are native to North America. They can be grown around the world, except for Antarctica. Do you know that more than 250 different types of pumpkins are grown in North America alone? 

Traditional food packed with flavor!

In the United States, the abundant fruit is largely associated with Halloween and Thanksgiving. Not only are pumpkins used as decorations, but most varieties are highly edible and packed with delicious flavor. Pumpkins can be used in a plethora of recipes to include appetizers, soups, side dishes, main meals, plus desserts. Let’s concentrate on roasting them:

Roasting pumpkin basics:

Oven friendly!

Pumpkins can be easily roasted in the oven. While they may be halved and baked, one very special way to prepare them is to cube and bake them. Per Healthyrecipes.com, small sugar pumpkins, varying from 2 to 5 lbs., are most flavorful. If pumpkin is tough, they recommend slightly softening it in the microwave. See our tip below.

Prep hints:

To prep the sugar pumpkin: wash it, remove the stem, cut the pumpkin in half, and take out the pulpy matter and seeds. Toss the pulp. Save and bake the edible seeds if desired! Then, cube the pumpkin. To learn how to cube a pumpkin, click here for a demo by Cooking Light.

Pumpkin rind is edible:

For thin skin pumpkins, the peel does not have to be removed. For ones with thicker rind, it’s optimal to remove the peel in order to achieve even cooking.

Good to know stuff:

Note that butternut squash and pumpkin are different in shape and size yet may be used interchangeably in most recipes. They also vary in taste. Though both can be sweet, squash is known to have more of a nutty flavor, whereas pumpkin is earthier.

Spice it up!

Now here’s where you can get creative. Simply toss the pumpkin cubes with your favorite high-quality olive oil and spices before roasting.

Dry spices that generally pair well with pumpkin include:

  • Allspice & brown sugar
  • Cinnamon, cloves & brown sugar
  • Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger & chili powder
  • Cinnamon, maple syrup & honey
  • Garlic & soy sauce
  • Smoked paprika & salt
  • Chili powder & salt
  • Thyme, rosemary, garlic powder & Himalayan salt
  • Cumin, coriander & salt
  • Sage, garlic powder & salt
  • Salt & cracked black pepper
  • Or experiment and use your favorite combo!

 

Suggestion: You may substitute dry herbswith fresh and/or garnish recipes with fresh herbs if preferred.

Basic roasting instructions:

Combine desired ingredients in a large bowl and gently toss. To keep them from sticking or making a mess, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast them in an oven preheated to 425-degrees F. for about 30 minutes or longer until fork tender. Flip after 15 to 20 minutes of baking time.

Baking hints: Keep the oven light on and watch them roast. You will want them to be lightly golden brown on the outside, yet tender on the inside. Test doneness by inserting a fork into the pumpkin cube center.

Extra prep/roasting/serving tips:

  • Always use a sharp knife when cutting a pumpkin. If it is slightly tough, use a rocking motion to help slide the knife through.
  • Consider microwaving a tough pumpkin. Wash it, cut off ends, then pierce the clean pumpkin all over with a fork or knife. Place it in a microwave-friendly glass dish with sides. Microwave it until barely Cooking times may vary depending upon the size of the pumpkin and the microwave wattage. On average, it takes about five minutes. Or place it in a preheated 375-degree F. oven for approximately 15 minutes on average.
  • If using a pumpkin with a thick skin, cut it into slices and remove the skin before cubing.
  • When roasting, spread the pumpkin in a single layer.
  • Roast on high temperature to avoid mushy pumpkin.
  • To avoid burning, don’t forget to flip your pumpkin cubes after 15 to 20 minutes of roasting. Then continue to bake for another 10 to 15 minutes until nicely golden. (Takes about 30 minutes total baking time.)
  • Consider adding fresh chopped herbs (examples: parsley, sage, rosemary, or thyme) over top before serving.
  • Or drizzle with some fresh lemon zest/juice or a lemon yogurt topping if preferred. To make a simple yogurt-lemon sauce: mix one cup of Greek yogurt with one small, minced garlic clove, one tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and a drizzle of high-quality olive oil or 2 tablespoons of lemon infused olive oil, and lastly salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with parsley for color.
  • Or consider crumbling some nuts such as pepitas, pine nuts, roasted pumpkin seeds, or sunflowers over the top. Or use homemade breadcrumbs for extra crunch.
  • Roasted pumpkin cubes can be served as a side or over a bed of salad greens.

Enjoy!

We hope you enjoy these pumpkin roasting tips plus prep shortcuts and serving ideas! Note that there are many exciting ways to use pumpkins. To create a tablescape with pumpkins and other Halloween themes, click here. (Attach our sister article entitled How to create Halloween Tablescapes)

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