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Roasted Baby Pumpkins

by Jane Worthington-Roth

You might not realize it, but those little pumpkins you often see adorning the tops of split-rail fences here in the Berkshires are actually edible. They require very little preparation to transform into beautiful appetizers for your Thanksgiving table. Be sure to buy the untreated pumpkins, not the ones with the high-gloss shellac shine. The ones with the varnish are NOT edible.

Adults and children all enjoy eating right out of the shell and it gives them a fun appetizer to feast on while you finish carving the turkey. And cleanup couldn’t possibly be easier.

The pumpkins take about 45 minutes to cook, but you can put them in individual foil bottoms and nestle them around the other goodies you have cooking in the oven. Cut off the caps and remove the seeds in the morning, then stick them in the oven about an hour before it’s time to eat. The combination of pumpkin and a little maple syrup contrasted with the tang of goat cheese and a little bite from the peppery arugula is absolutely magical! If you have omnivores, vegetarians and vegans at your holiday table, this first course is easy to adapt for all.

Roasted Baby Pumpkins

1 baby pumpkin for each person
For each pumpkin: 1 teaspoon butter and 1 teaspoon maple syrup
To serve: a slice of goat cheese and about ¼ cup baby arugula for each pumpkin

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

To prepare the pumpkins, cut off the top third. A large serrated knife such as a bread knife seems to work the best for this, as the length of the knife gives you the leverage you need to work your way cutting though the pumpkin using both hands.

Scrape out and discard the pumpkin seeds. A serrated grapefruit spoon makes this a very easy task.

Into each pumpkin bottom put 1 teaspoon butter and 1 teaspoon maple syrup.

Replace the lid on each pumpkin, place on a foil-lined tray and bake until the flesh is very soft, about 45 minutes. A knife inserted into a pumpkin should easily pierce the flesh.

When it’s time to serve, place some arugula and a “coin” of goat cheese in each pumpkin and top with a lid angled to the side.

Guests may use a fork or a spoon to scoop out the flesh from the top and bottom and stir in the maple and butter with the goat cheese.