Peeling and cutting a pumpkin is a lot of work, especially if the pumpkin or squash is on the large side. If you are going to purée it anyway, it’s easier to roast it whole, cut it in half, remove the seeds and scoop out the soft flesh so it’s ready to eat.
How to toast a pumpkin or squash
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
2. Place the whole pumpkin or squash on a baking dish (you don’t need oil). Roast it until you can easily pierce it with a fork. (It will take anything from 25-90 minutes depending on size. You need to check it from time to time – the pumpkin will start to collapse in the middle when it’s done.)
You can also cut the squash or pumpkin in half and place the halves cut side-down in the baking dish. It takes less time than baking a whole one, so start checking it after 20-25 minutes.
TIMINGS: Different varieties of squash will differ in cooking times. A whole Red Kuri squash takes about 25 minutes to cook (and you can eat both the flesh and the skin). A butternut squash will vary from 25-30 minutes for half a squash to 45-60 minutes for a whole one, depending on its weight. A whole spaghetti squash takes about 90 minutes to cook.
– Roast a butternut squash in a baking tin on the bottom shelf of the oven while you are roasting chicken or a meat joint – you’ll have puréed squash ready to eat when the roast is done. Just half the cooked squash carefully, scoop out the seeds, scoop the flesh into a bowl, mash it well, season with salt and pepper, add a knob of butter or a splash of double cream and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Stir in some finely chopped herbs, and serve the squash with the roast.
– You can also whizz the cooked squash in a blender or food processor or press it through a mouli for a really fine texture.
– Add a dollop of cooked squash to risottos, soups or use it as a base for a pasta sauce.
– FREEZE THE COOKED SQUASH in bags ready to use for soups and side dishes. It keeps for up to 3 months in the freezer and is great for making baby food.
– HOW TO TOAST PUMPKIN OR SQUASH SEEDS: Don’t waste the pumpkin or squash seeds. Not only are they incredibly nutritious but you can add them to salads to add texture or eat as a snack – the good news is they are free! Rinse the seeds, remove any flesh, toss in olive oil and sea salt and bake at 180C/350F/Gas 4 for about 10 minutes, or until seeds are toasted and golden. For flavoured pumpkin or squash seeds, toss them in cumin or ground coriander, cayenne, dried chilli flakes, black pepper or fennel seeds before you add the oil.