The sugar pumpkin is a versatile winter squash that’s commonly used in pies, cookies, and breads. They can also be baked, sautéed, roasted, or even consumed raw.

A sugar pumpkin differs from a standard field (Halloween) pumpkin in several ways. Sugar pumpkins are smaller – usually the size of a softball or a cantaloupe – and their flesh is sweet, dense, and fine-grained, reasons that make them an excellent choice for cooking.

I don’t have a secret ingredient or a special way to prepare a sugar pumpkin. I keep it pretty basic. I use a large knife to cut the pumpkin in two and place the pieces face down on a cookie sheet and bake for a minimum of 45 minutes at 350°.

I usually wait until after I cook the sugar pumpkin to remove the seeds because I think the seeds add to the flavor of the flesh. I don’t use any oil or spices when I prepare them either.

Sugar pumpkins can be used in casseroles, with pasta and risotto, in stews, curries, soups, and sauces. If served as a dessert, it pairs well with maple syrup, molasses, nutmeg, pecans, and cinnamon. Now is the season to try one.