The Challenge: Pumpkin Italiano

April 18, 2011

Most gardeners are just starting to think about planting their seedlings, but I’m still cooking up my pumpkins from last fall! Working my way through 10 of them has been an interesting challenge and has kept me busy in the kitchen over the last few months, but I am finally down to my last pumpkin! I have several more recipes for you, but one food genre that has worked well for me on my pumpkin odyssey is good old Italian food. Pasta makes a marvelous partnership with pumpkin and along the way I’ve combined the two in a number of surprising ways.

Pumpkin Risotto

Pumpkin Risotto

4 tbsp oil
3 lbs peeled, seeded, and cubed pumpkin
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 medium chopped onion
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 ½ cups asorbito rice
salt and pepper to taste
6 cups of broth
¾ cup parmesan
2 tbsp butter

Makes 8 servings

Start by heating the oil in a large skillet and then add the garlic, onion, and pumpkin cubes. Meanwhile heat the broth in a separate pan. Saute the vegetables for about 5 to 10 minutes until the onions are starting to get translucent. Then add the rice and let the oil soak in to it a bit, add more if necessary. Next add the wine and let it soak into the rice. Once it is mostly absorbed add a few ladle fulls of broth, covering the rice completely. Stir frequently until it absorbs and add more broth. You will repeat this until the broth is gone so this recipe (like most risottos) is a bit of a stir fest. While you are letting the broth absorb season the risotto with salt, pepper, and garlic powder if it’s needed. Once all the liquid is absorbed, add the pumpkin puree and let it mix in. Finish the risotto off by dotting it with the butter and folding in the cheese to give it a rich, creamy texture. Serve immediately.

Pumpkin Ravioli

Pumpkin Ravioli

2 cups pumpkin puree
½ a medium white onion, caramelized
2 tbsp ricotta cheese
2 tbsp mozzarella
2 tbsp parmesan
2 tbsp Italian breadcrumbs
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
⅛ tsp nutmeg

Béchamel Sauce:
5 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
4 cups milk
Salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste

Saute the onion in a pan until caramelized then add to a blender or food processor with the pumpkin puree, cheeses, breadcrumbs, and seasoning and mix thoroughly. Put about a tablespoon size mound in store bought ravioli wrappers and seal according to the instructions or click here for directions on making homemade ravioli. Heat a pot of salted water to boiling and cook the ravioli for 5-10 minutes.

Béchamel Sauce

While a helper is working on sealing the ravioli or when the ravioli are in the pot boiling, make a béchamel sauce in a large skillet. To begin, melt the butter in the skillet and slowly add the flour a tbsp at a time while whisking to create a roux. In a separate skillet warm the milk, but do not boil. Once your roux has a sandy color and smooth consistency, slowly add the milk a ½ cup at a time and let it thicken over medium heat. Add seasonings to taste and ladle over freshly cooked ravioli.

Pile of pumpkin ravioli

Pumpkin Spaghetti Sauce

3 lbs pumpkin grated
3 tbsp olive oil
1 ½ tbsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of nutmeg and sugar (optional)
1 cup parmesan

Makes 6 servings.

Grating pumpkin is cooking's version of heavy labor

Hand grate peeled and seeded sections of pumpkin or use a food processor if you have the right blade. In a large pot heat the oil then add the grated pumpkin and mix it around until it is absorbed. Then add the seasoning and a cup or so of water, stir the mixture, and bring it to a simmer. Add more water as the mixture dries out and after about 20 minutes or so the pumpkin will disintegrate into a sauce. Just make sure not to add too much water or the sauce will get too soupy. Cook angel hair pasta until at the desired texture in a separate pot. Add some of the pasta water to the sauce mixture if necessary. Top the pasta with the sauce and a sprinkling of parmesan and serve immediately.

Pumpkin spahetti sauce over angel hair pasta

Roasted Pumpkin Rigatoni Casserole

This hearty baked pasta dish is the cure for the common casserole. It may sound like a lot of moving parts, but it is fairly simple and makes enough to feed 10.

½ medium sugar pumpkin
1 large white or yellow onion
1 red pepper
1 lb rigatoni pasta
1 cup parmesan cheese
3 tbsp olive oil

Spicy Béchamel Sauce:
5 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
4 cups milk
2-3 cloves of garlic
½ tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste)

Roasted Pumpkin Rigatoni Casserole

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and begin by cutting open your pumpkin and removing the guts and seeds. Place the cut pumpkin flesh side up in a baking dish with a small amount of water at the bottom and rub with a little bit of olive oil. Roast in the oven for about an hour. Meanwhile roughly chop the onion and cut the red pepper in half and remove its seeds. Then get a second baking dish, add a small amount of olive oil to the bottom and rub the halved pepper in the oil to prepare it for roasting. Once the pumpkin has been in the oven for 30 minutes add the baking dish with the red pepper. While the two are roasting, start bringing a large pot of water to boil for the pasta and caramelize the onion until is a nice golden brown color in a separate frying pan. Add the pasta to the boiling water, cook until still slightly chewy, and drain.

When the onion is about halfway through start the béchamel sauce in a separate skillet. You’ll begin by creating a roux as above in the pumpkin ravioli recipe, except you will add the minced garlic cloves and red pepper flakes to the melted butter then continue as described. Remove the pumpkin and red peppers from the oven at the end of the hour and cut them into bite-sized pieces.

When the sauce is finished you’ll fill a 9×12 casserole dish with the pasta and top it with the onions and roasted red pepper, and cover the whole mixture with the sauce. Mix the ingredients slightly to ensure that all components are covered with the sauce. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and top with the parmesan cheese and bake an additional 5 minutes until the cheese has melted.


One thought on “The Challenge: Pumpkin Italiano

  1. Pingback: Pumpkin Challenge Complete! : : livin' sassy

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