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Halloween, pumpkins and… magical potions!
Pumpkin is really a versatile ingredient in the kitchen and there is no cooking site that does not propose recipes with this vegetable in their ingredients.
I like a lot to improvise, and I always try to enrich dishes with an extra flavor to surprises.
So, choose your favorite recipes among the web in this month of October, because today I propose you some suggestions to pimp your pumpkin!
Pumpkin & Nutmeg: like a good granddaughter of a mantuan grandmother, I know that the pumpkin has no reason to exist without a generous sprinkling of nutmeg, such that almost my tongue can not conceive the taste of one without the other. And this is not much to add.
How: almost anywhere! In soups, gnocchi, risotto or directly on the pumpkin in the oven. Even in sweet cakes!
Pumpkin & Cheese: pumpkin has a sweet taste, which fits perfectly with strongly flavored cheeses. Over all, the blue cheeses: gorgonzola (preferably spicy), roquefort and castelmagno, or if you luckly live in the area of Bergamo, try it with the exceptional strachitunt. Another great ally of the pumpkin is taleggio. Or, less in calories, try it with a fresh goat milk cheese.
How: with pumpkin gnocchi, topped with a fondue of your favorite cheese or simple croutons with diced pumpkin, browned, cheese … and a quick passage under the grill.
Pumpkin & Fruit Mustard: I never loved fruit mustard, but I know it would be a heresy not to put a piece in the pumpkin ravioli.
How: they are phenomenal if you want to prepare a mashed pumpkin to match with hearty meat, like a pork roast. A bit of mustard is also fine in all those preparations that require a filling, such as ravioli, or a pie. In this case, however, also I would avoid pairing with strong cheeses. Try this wonderful combination in a veg pumpkin hamburger!
Pumpkin & Cinnamon: the pungent flavor of cinnamon reminds a bit that of nutmeg, but the risk that the whole thing becomes cloying is around the corner. Use the cinnamon with pumpkin with moderation, reserving you the right to taste before adding more.
How: do not be afraid to use it in all sweet recipes, while act with caution in the salty ones.
Pumpkin & Chestnuts: as I read in a book *, this seems like a couple of fat ponies. Yet, it’s a combination that made autumn! The wooden note of Chestnut enriches the sweetness of pumpkin and gives that extra edge with both sweet and salty.
How: using chestnut flour instead of wheat flour for the preparation of pumpkin gnocchi (making them suitable also for those who are intolerant to gluten!) or where it is required to thicken the flour. Fry in butter the diced pumpkin and previously boiled and clean chestnuts and serve as a side dish or used the latter to enrich a risotto. For sweet recipes, instead, try to crumble candied chestnuts in the stuffing of the pumpkin pie: it will amaze you!
Pumpkin & Chili: why not? The sweet taste of this vegetable is not to everyone, but with a little chili or a pinch of paprika, the flavor of the pumpkin will conquer even them.
How: to enrich the sauce for ravioli or add a pinch in all the sauces made with pumpkin that you will use as dressing. Do not overdo if you have already abounded with nutmeg. In cakes recipes, use it if there is already a match with chocolate, otherwise, go down with cinnamon. An experiment: and if the next time you put pumpkin in fajitas, instead of peppers?
Pumpkin & Vegetables: there is no limit to experimentation. I would avoid peppers, broccoli or cabbage: the risk of covering the flavor of the pumpkin is very high!
How: leeks, onion, garlic and shallot. Add them, replace them, and combine them at will in fried, creams, quiches and pies. Herbs and spinach will give a green note to all your dishes. The carrots are perfect if added to a soup (or if you miss just those 200 grams of pumpkin to achieve the intended dose in the recipe) or a sweet cake.
Pumpkin & Rosemary: sage, bay leaf and rosemary are all particularly suitable with the pumpkin. But for me rosemary is always the best.
How: baked or in soups and creams. One tips: tie the sprig of rosemary in cheesecloth so that does not lose its leaves, especially in those preparations that need to be pureed, or the flavor will be too strong!
Pumpkin & Apple: a combination that immediately makes a comfort food. Apples add density and a fresh and fruity note to any dish. But choose the yellow or pink ones.
How: to make less cloying the filling of a sweet cake, with much cinnamon, or even in a soup (in which I would add fried carrots and shallots). Just saute together, they are great as a side dish for a roast.
Pumpkin & Pork: including all meat, pumpkin undoubtedly choose the pig.
How: as a side dish to hearty roasts, ribs, or combined with sausages for sauces and quiches. Or then enrich your risotto or pasta sauce with bacon, ham or strips of crispy bacon.
Pumpkin & Citrus fruits: lemon, orange, citron and lime! The sweet pumpkin like them all. But they’re not for all tastes.
How: perfect candied or grating the zest in sweet recipes but, again, I would not use nutmeg or cinnamon if there’s citrus fruits. Very indicated also in parallel, to enrich roast poultry (chickens, ducks and quails) and then served next to a simple baked or browned pumpkin.
Pumpkin & Almonds: almonds and amaretti macaroons for accuracy. Their bitterness emphasizes the sweetness of pumpkin and gives sprint!
How: toasted almonds grain or slats can be added to a risotto or a pasta. Almonds and amaretti are perfect in stuffed tortelli and quiches. And crumbled amaretti make any dessert recipe special, if added in the dough.
And you, what do you combine with the pumpkin? Have you managed to find the secret ingredient to make magic your dishes? Enjoy your meal!
* “The Flavors Thesaurus” – Niki Segnit