This was actually supposed to be a post about Pumpkin Shepherd's Pie. I have had pumpkin on the brain lately, but I've never used fresh, just canned. I decided it was time I try working with a fresh pumpkin, but not having a good feel for it yet, I wanted to try a savory dish rather than a pastry or other dessert. I guess because of the texture of canned pumpkin, I always assumed that fresh pumpkin would cook sort of like a Butternut Squash or Sweet Potato. That's what gave me the idea to replace the Mashed Potatoes in a Shepherd's Pie with mashed Pumpkin. I was completely surprised to cut into it and see that it much more closely resembled Spaghetti Squash.
In any event, I cut the stem off a small pumpkin, scooped out as much of the seeds as I could reach, then roasted the pumpkin, whole, at 375 for about 40" until fork tender. After letting it sit for a few minutes, I was able to very easily peel away the skin. I cut the flesh into chunks, added a bit off butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon (not enough to make it taste like dessert - just to enhance the pumpkin's natural flavor) and mashed it. I spread it over the top of my Shepherd's Pie filling, sprinkled paprika over the top and popped it into the oven for about a half hour at 350 until it started to lightly brown and bubble around the edges.
I ended up being totally ambivalent about the dish. That's why I'm not posting the recipe. It looked good to me, and it smelled great, but the flavor just wasn't there. Even with onion, garlic, carrots, oregano, worcestershire, tomato paste, etc. It was ehhh. I just wanted to post this in case it gives you and idea of how you might like to play around with it.
As for the seeds ...
When I scooped the seeds out of the pumpkin, I put them in a bowl, then covered them with water. I then sort of squeezed my way around the bowl to get the seeds to release the fibers that were attached to them, poured out the water, and dumped the seeds onto paper towels so I could blot them dry.
When I was contemplating how I wanted to flavor them, whether I was just going to salt them or add some kind of spice, I suddenly remembered that I had recently picked up a few things at the local Amish store I hadn't used yet. Two of those items were ranch dressing powder and powdered jalapeno. Sounded like an interesting mix to me!
I put the pumpkin seeds back in the bowl, then drizzled on just a tiny bit of olive oil to help in the browning/crisping process and to help distribute the flavorings. I sprinkled on a little of each powder (and some kosher salt) and stirred well to coat all the seeds.
I spread the seeds into a single layer on a sheet of parchment and baked them off at 275 for about 45", giving them a shake once or twice along the way, until they started to brown. I ate a few and decided they were still a little too soft. I didn't want them to burn, so I just turned off the oven and let them hang out in there while it cooled down so they would finish drying. Turns out that ranch/jalapeno is a great match. I was munching on these watching horror movies last night and had a hard time putting them down!