Don’t Trash Those Carving Cut-Outs! aka the Tale of Unwasted Pumpkin

You could skip carving for an opt for a charred, whole roasted pumpkin, like the one here -- but we opted for both acts and just roasted the cutouts. Photo courtesy jerseysam, flickr.com.

Hold that carving knife. If you’re sipping on a locally roasted brew, eyeing that pumpkin you just bought from the Greenmarket and thinking about cutting out a big ol’ swanky smile, or maybe the cityscape out your window, let’s talk strategy. Mainly, where’s that negative space going? (Or is it the positive space?) All those scraps, I mean: Every year, I battle with the idea that this pumpkin before me is both an excellent carving canvas and a piece of food that we’re going to let sit out for a while as it slowly wrinkles away. Or, maybe that’s just my overly waste-wary self. Though, I’m guessing it’s not a far cry from the sentiment of most Edible readers, seeing as we talk a lot about preserving foodstuffs around here.

So this year, as I was visiting some upstaters for an early Halloween and one of them walked in with a massive, 3-foot tall orange canvas, I felt a little cringe. And as the first cuts were made, the knife pulled back to reveal a four-inch-thick slice of sweet squash, and no one was going to put that baby in the trash, as far as I was concerned, not even the compost. We were going to eat it. So after hours of carving, while we lit up the pumpkins and showed ’em off, we passed around a tray of thin slices roasted in the oven, filling the aroma of the apartment with not just great gourd but pungent garlic, butter and thyme.

Now, most expert pie-bakers would tell you that a carving pumpkin is not made for the oven; that baking should be left for softer, less stringy or watery varieties (like our recently featured Long Island Cheese, perhaps). But I wasn’t here to make pie, and to be honest, I didn’t really care or have much expectation for a more than decent tasting snack. And in the name of nose-to-nail eating (or, in this case, base-to-stem?), I was going to finish off that pumpkin some way or other.

About a half hour later at 375 degrees (though, check periodically on your own, given their width), the slices had softened enough to fork into bites like cake; like a savory version of pumpkin pie, all garlicky and herby. Like something folks might have made generations ago, before there was ever thought to do anything else with food but eat it. We sat and we ate, and we had another, flickering orange globes behind us, yummy unwasted goods in our bellies. To think it was almost worm food!

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