The pumpkin, autumn comfort food
Colourful and in the most bizarre shapes, a pumpkin adds joy and merriment to every table
The pumpkin is one of those vegetables closely linked to the arrival of autumn and has become a symbol of one of the most exciting holidays of the year, Halloween, both colourful and cheerful, in all its bizarre forms. An extraordinary starting point for many regional recipes. The main cultivations in Italy are in Lombardy and Emilia Romagna, although the pumpkin arrived in the West from Central America, imported by the famous Christopher Columbus.
There are many varieties, all different in shape and taste, each suited to different recipes. Among the best known in Italy are the Berettina, the Cremonese, the Mantovana, the Marina di Chioggia, the Napoletana… just try them all!
The Delica variety is small and round, and has a smooth dark green skin, very sweet and fragrant, suitable for many preparations and also for gnocchi. Try the pumpkin flan with our recipe.
The Hokkaido variety, with its small size and a weight of 800 to 1500 g, has a very dark, thin orange skin that is also edible. The pulp of this pumpkin is hard and fragrant, ideal to be fried, in batter.
The Butternut variety, with its characteristic elongated shape, is like a violin. The yellow-orange skin is thin and is particularly tender and sweet. The recipe to save, to make at home is the confit pumpkin, perfect as a side dish with meat or fish dishes.
How to choose them
A good pumpkin must be firm and heavy.
There should be no spots or marks on the skin.
Buy a whole pumpkin if you can, otherwise check that the pulp is moist and compact.
How to store them
Whole pumpkins can be stored for up to 4 or 5 months in a dark, cool, and ventilated room.
But if the pumpkin has already been cut up, store it in the refrigerator covering the pulp with cling film and use it within a maximum of 1 week after buying it.
You can use the pumpkin skin to flavour a vegetable stock.
Keep the seeds: wash them to remove stringy parts, dry them well and spread them out on a baking tray; then sprinkle with a pinch of salt and bake in the oven at 150°C for about 45 minutes, until they reach the desired degree of brownness. Perfect served as a snack or aperitif.
And if you decide to empty the pumpkin, you will obtain a beautiful container in which to serve a soup, risotto or whatever your creativity suggests.