Cooking Pumpkins and Making Pumpkin Seed Butter

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Posted by Jill Whalen | Posted in Food | Posted on 11-24-2013

I’ve been eating a LOT of winter squash lately and have been enjoying trying lots of different varieties.  While  spaghetti squash seems to have its own unique characteristics and texture, I found that butternut, buttercup, acorn and the like, seem to taste pretty similar. They’re sweet and  buttery and yummy!

I have been gobbling up half a squash as my lunch on the weekends for the past month or so. But this weekend I realized I was all out 🙁  Then I remembered the sugar pumpkin a friend had given me from his garden ages ago. Surprisingly, it was still in great shape and not at all soft.

When cooking squash, I basically just slice them in half, scrape out the seeds (with a grapefruit spoon), spray them with olive oil and throw in some fresh ginger, salt and pepper. Then I microwave them with the cut side down and cover with plastic wrap for about 10 minutes. Depending on the size, they’ll typically need another 5-10 additional minutes after that.

I figured pumpkins were basically just squashes anyway, and proceeded to go through my usual routine. While there were definite similarities, I did learn a few things that I didn’t know before.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds With Cinnamon

The Seeds

The first thing I noticed was that the pumpkin seemed to have a lot more seeds than the squashes I was used to, which is probably why you always hear about roasting pumpkin seeds rather than squash seeds. (I have been roasting my squash seeds, and other than the spaghetti squash ones, they’ve been great!).

Unfortunately, my great idea to dry the seeds in my salad spinner, turned out to be not such a great idea at all. The seeds were just small enough to fit through the holes in the spinner and

In the Ninjastarted flying out all over the place! Definitely stick with paper towels for drying your seeds unless you have a salad spinner with smaller holes than I do.

Before roasting the seeds I wondered if there was such a thing as pumpkin seed butter.  I’ve been making my own sunflower seed butter and absolutely love it! As it turns out, yes, pumpkin seed butter is a real thing. However, I wouldn’t recommend making it. I worked on mine all day and processed the crap out of the seeds with my Ninja, I could never get it smooth enough. It smells wonderful, and even tastes okay but the tiny bits of seeds that won’t grind make it seem like there’s sand in it.

The Cooked Pumpkin

After cooking the pumpkin similarly to how I do my squashes (it took the whole 20 mins.) I tried a bite and noticed that it wasn’t as sweet as the squashes I was used to. I’m not a big fan of sweet stuff these days, but the lack of sweetness with the pumpkin made it seem much too bland. cooked-pumpkin

While I could definitely have eaten it as is, I decided to add a spoonful or so of natural maple syrup as I mushed it up in its shell to give it more flavor. That made it just about right for  my tastes. It also didn’t seem quite as buttery as the squashes I was used to, so I found myself adding more salt than usual. I wonder if the blandness of pumpkins might be the reason why they actually use squash in most canned “pumpkin” filling for pumpkin pies?

[My husband just tried the other half without any additional sweetening or extra salt and he liked it just fine, but he hasn’t had any of my yummy squashes!]

Overall, while the pumpkin was good in a pinch, I think I’ll stick to squashes in the future when I just want a quick, nutritious lunch on a cold weekend afternoon!

Yum!

–Jill

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So this might sound gross, but I melted in a square of good dark chocolate, and it was soooo good! There was some ginger in the pumpkin as well, which went great with the chocolate. All it also needed was some additional salt.