07 October 2007

Pumpkin, you are a worthy opponent.

Last week at Trader Joe's, I bought two small pie pumpkins, and I've been waiting for days to crack them open. I've obviously carved my share of pumpkins, but I guess I've never met a pumpkin pie pumpkin before because those little bastards were tough!! At one point Brad came in and gave me the "you're gonna kill yourself look" and promptly walked right out of the room.

First I attempted to just slice the pumpkin in half. HA! Not even a dent. So I thought I'd cut the top off like a jack o'lantern. This I managed, but it took about 15 minutes to get the lids off both pumpkins. I had to use a little paring knife, slowly stab it in, move it around a little, slowly pull it back out, repeat (about 100 times). Finally I got the tops off and started gutting them. I saved the seeds so I could make sugar and cinnamon baked seeds. So I get those ready and put them in the oven to bake while I try and get the flesh of the pumpkin loose from the pumpkin. First I try scraping it out. No dice. Then I try cutting it. No dice. There's a rumor you can peel a pumpkin, so I tried, but SCREW THAT! So anyway, I decide to throw the whole pumpkins in the oven to see if that'll soften the flesh. After about 10 minutes or so, the flesh is still just as hard, but the shell itself is a little easier to cut. I managed to break them into a few pieces, and then it was time to tackle the flesh again.

Either I'm an idiot, or there's just no good way to do this. I just attacked it with my paring knife, getting chunks here, peeling chunks off like old wallpaper, and slicing my finger in the meantime. In the end, I wound up with just about the right amount of pumpkin I needed for my dinner recipe. I finished this task vowing to NEVER buy a pumpkin again. Canned puree all the way.

Meanwhile, my pumpkin seeds finished. Note, I read the directions twice and checked them again when they came out.... Burned to all hell. How do you ruin pumpkin seeds?!?!

So anyway, now it's time to tackle dinner. I found this recipe for pumpkin sauce over pasta. I'm cooking along, cooking along, and for once my sauce is actually looking how I think it should. And, of course, I added some grated parmesean (if you want extra cheesy, use more, obviously -- it'll only taste better and better).

Finally the pasta is ready and it's time to mix it all together and eat it up. Mmmm. Looks heavenly!

First bite, it tasted good but a little bland. I went back in and tripled all the spices (which I hadn't measured the first time around either) and gave it a stir. When I went back for my second helping, I was totally sold. Super good. (PS, it could definitely be made without the cheese and cream for a vegan-friendly dish.) I've made a pumpkin pasta dish before -- it has more cream, more cheese, and sausage. It definitely makes for a more savory dish, but I really like the lightness of this pasta, and it really features the pumpkin. And I don't feel so bad about myself (the other one has a LOT of cream) afterwards. I used ridged rigatoni (one of my favorite pastas), and it was a perfect match for the textured sauce.

Final verdict: I can't image this pasta without the texture from the real pumpkin. I guess I'll buy another pumpkin after all.

1 comment:

Sara said...

Poor crying pumpkin seeds! Maybe cook the seeds halfway then add the sugar? Looks like just the sugar burned. Weird.

Pasta looks yummy. I bought a butternut squash to make soup, but haven't cracked it yet. I made bread today instead, in between a fully day of paper writing. Ugh.