Your Pumpkin Pizza Deserves The Roasting Treatment

Whether or not you're a fan of pumpkin spice, which seems to have become fall's most polarizing flavor, autumn does make a good time for exploring the savory side of pumpkin when these orange fruits are seemingly on sale in every store, parking lot, and street corner. Pumpkin pizza is a favorite of ours because it's not only tasty but alliterative, as well. (We're particularly partial to pumpkin parmesan, pumpkin pesto, and pumpkin prosciutto pizzas.)

The best way to add a healthy helping of pumpkin to pizza, whether you're going the homemade route or simply adding some toppings to upgrade a frozen one (perhaps one of Aldi's Halloween pumpkin-shaped pies), is to roast it first. Roasting makes pumpkin extra sweet, softens the flesh, and, incidentally, makes it much simpler to scoop out the guts. To roast a pumpkin, cut it in quarters, rub the four pieces with olive oil, and then bake them at 325 F until you can stick a fork in them easily. For a small, pie-sized pumpkin, this should take about 45 minutes. Once the pumpkin is cooked, you can easily remove the seeds and stringy bits before slicing the flesh to use as a pizza topper.

How to choose a pumpkin for roasting

Some sources suggest that the best pumpkins for cooking include very specific types such as Fairytales, Jarrahdales, Luminas, and Marina Di Chioggias, which is all very well and good if you happen to shop at the kind of place bougie enough to offer (and label) a wide range of different varieties. In many stores, though, you'll find your choice limited to the smaller kind, often labeled called sugar or pie pumpkins, and the larger ones typically sold for jack-o'-lantern carving. While some people insist that sugar pumpkins are the only ones suitable for roasting and eating, that may not be true. All types of pumpkin are edible, and some who've cooked and eaten the jack-o'-lantern kind say they taste fine. The larger ones may have a stringier texture, though, so smaller pumpkins are a better bet for pizza topping.

When you're shopping for a pumpkin to roast, there are a few more things to keep in mind besides size. The stem should be dry and brown since a green stem = an unripe pumpkin. It should also be firmly fixed in there, since if it's wobbly the pumpkin might have a soft top that indicates it's already begun to rot. Check the pumpkin all over, particularly the bottom where it may have been in prolonged contact with damp ground. If there are any soft spots or bruises, these, too, may be signs of rot, so put that one back and pick another potential pizza pumpkin.