A pumpkin for your Valentine? While pumpkins are most associated with Autumn and Halloween, the seasonality of pumpkins actually stretches much longer. Did you know that pumpkins are in season from September into the winter? Here in Italy, we are arriving towards the end of the pumpkin season but we still have a sec before we officially say goodbye to this versatile and often forgotten vegetable.
Here are 3 ways to prepare an amazing home cooked Valentine’s Day dinner for your sweetie using pumpkin as the star.
(Or yanno, if you’re like me and you don’t particularly dig this holiday– go ahead and make it for yourself or some friends any other day of the week.)
So before we dive into possible pumpkin creations, all the following recipes have some prep***. First, go buy yourself a pumpkin! I prefer the smaller greener Delica pumpkins typical of Northern Italy, but of course this may vary depending on your region.
***For Tortiglioni & Pumpkin and Risotto alla Zucca you will need to peel and de-seed the pumpkin and cut into small uniform cubs
***For Pumpkin Gnocchi, you will need to cut the pumpkin in half (not peeled). Remove seeds and pulp. Place the cut side onto a sheet of parchment paper on an oven tray. Bake at 350ºF or 180ºC for about 25 minutes or until soft. Remove the peel and mash the pumpkin pulp with a fork.
Once you’ve done these steps continue the steps from the following pumpkin-licious recipes.
Tortiglioni & Pumpkin
One of my FAVES during pumpkin season! To make this one pot recipe- you’ll need:
-500 grams of pasta (Tortiglioni as pictured works really well but fusilli or penne are equally as good)
-1/2 chopped onion
-1/2 peeled seeded pumpkin
-Hot pepper flakes
-Extra Virgin olive oil
1. Drizzle oil to a large ceramic pot and turn heat on medium.
2. Add onions and saute until transparent.
3. Add pumpkin cubes and 1/2 cup of water. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until pumpkin begins to soften. Stirring occasionally
4. Add pasta to the pumpkin mix and add just enough water to cover the pasta.
5. Cook according to packaging or until ‘al dente’. Stir very frequently to avoid burning and to promote an even cook on the pasta. The consistency of the pasta & pumpkin should become creamy. (not too watery). If it’s still too liquid, let it sit for a few more minutes uncovered.
6. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and parmigiano.
Risotto alla Zucca
For this recipe you will need:
-500 grams Carnaroli rice
-1.5 liters veggie broth
-1/2 glass white wine
-80 grams parmigiano
-2 tablespoons butter
1. Chop onion and add to a saute pan with some olive oil. Cook until onion starts to turn golden. Add pumpkin cubes and a small amount of broth. Cover and add broth as necessary. Take pan off heat when pumpkin is soft and set aside.
2. In a large and clean saute pan add the rice and toast for 2-3 minutes until rice begins to turn opalescent. Next, add the half glass of white wine and simmer until it has cooked off.
3. After the wine has fully absorbed, add the pumpkin mixture to the rice.
4. Begin to add broth, a little at a time. Stir frequently. When the broth has absorbed, add another ladle until the rice is cooked to your liking.
5. Near the end of the cook time, add salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme to taste.
6. A true risotto is then “mantecato” with butter and cheese. I choose to skip the butter, and only add in the parmigiano.
Pumpkin Gnocchi with Buttery Sage Sauce
For this recipe you will need:
-puree from 1 small pumpkin
-300 grams of flour
-Butter & sage for sauce
1. As you create the gnocchi mix bring a large pot of water to boil. Add salt when the water boils
2.Add egg, a pinch of salt and flour to pumpkin puree.
3. Work the mix until you have a compact dough.
4.Divide the dough into parts and begin to roll out sections into long ‘ropes’ and then cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Add flour as needed to prevent dough from sticking.
5.Add gnocchi to the boiling water. They cook time is very short. Gnocchi are ready when they come to the surface, so use a strainer to scoop them out as they are ready.
6.Add 1 spoonful of butter and a few sage leaves to a sautee pan. Bring to a simmer.
7Add gnocchi and sautee to evenly coat all gnocchi.
Add pecorino cheese on top!
Now, all you need is a great bottle of wine to accompany, some roasted garlic bread or a side salad and you’ve got yourself set for an amazing evening. Whether it’s for Valentine’s Day or just a regular weekday– these recipes can spruce up any occasion.
Author: Ali @ Sustainable PsycheMy name is Ali. I am an American living in Italy. I am passionate about delicious food that is also ethical, healthy and sustainable. I love pasta and pizza, traveling, horseback riding and exploring the vibrant city of Milan that I call home.