Shot by Riley Ziesig
I was shopping at the Greene Grape one afternoon and their display of Fall pumpkins were gorgeous. I've only known pumpkin at the extremes, as a thing you put on your porch or magically appearing in a pie. The in-between part of actually cooking pumpkin eluded me, what, with canned pumpkin available where I grew up? Never really had the opportunity to get my hands on one outside of Halloween!
The most genius (and most simple) idea of cooking this pumpkin came from the Greene Grape signage. A small note next to the pumpkins said, "Smash it on the ground and roast it!"
Yes, you can totally do that. And I'm going to make this joke.
Take any baking pumpkin and wash it. You don't want to get any dirt on the outside to get on the inside. Put it in a paper bag, roll up the excess end and wrap that in a plastic shopping bag. Tie it closed. Ascend to the top of the stairs of your house or if you're in an apartment like me, the top rung of a step-ladder. Laugh a little at the situation, it's part of the recipe.
Make sure the floor is clear. Warn all roommates, housemates, toddlers, and pets that you will be lobbing a pumpkin with some might and force at the ground below. Confirm that you will be throwing the pumpkin stem side up, I don't want you all complaining to me about scuffing your wood floor after this. Don't just drop the pumpkin, throw it. I had to do this twice because I am a small human with little strength.
Open up the bag and check that you actually broke the pumpkin into manageable pieces as big as your hand. It will be impossible (and scary) if they broke into exactly the same size -- pics if that happens! -- but make sure the collective pieces will fit in a pan in your oven.
I love how the pumpkin looks broken up like this and not sliced in unnatural uniform pieces. The divots are ideal for holding dips for your fancy crudités platter!
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Scoop out the seeds and save them for roasting if you wish. Use a spoon to remove the pulp or use your hands if you don't mind the barbarism. Place the pumpkin in an oven-safe roasting pan in and drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Do not let any pieces overlap, single layer please! Roast for 45 minutes or until the pumpkin is fork tender.
While you wait, prepare a sauce, pesto or dip. I like this pistachio tapenade from Smitten Kitchen.
Once the pumpkin is roasted, let it cool so it's easier to handle and you don't mess up the cute cup shapes. Spoon in your favorite dip and enjoy as a vegetarian main or impressive shared side dish!