I adore the taste of pumpkin in all it’s transformations into pies, breads, roasted, toasted & baked. Pumpkins conjure up images of bonfires & baking, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” & a lifetime of Jack O’Lanterns.
Sunday morning at the Nashville Downtown Farmer’s Market I found myself in the midst of thousands of pumpkins, winter squash & gourds of every color tone, size & shape…from perfectly perfect to the fantastically gnarly…spread out & piled high, all beautiful. I purchased what is marketed as a “pie pumpkin”, about 2 lbs, for $1.00.
I went to my current favorite cookbook , “Tender/Vol 1” by Nigel Slater (4th Estate London, publisher), which is full of some of the best, most accessible recipes & cozy meanderings throughout his garden life. The photos are so yummy and real. I found a very simple, intriguing recipe entitled “A pumpkin pangrattato with rosemary and orange”.
Pangrattato is Italian for breadcrumbs
My version of this recipe comes with a few changes due to using what I had on hand which did not include parsley and did include a couple of fresh pears picked from my neighbors tree which is still heavy with fruit. Pumpkin, crispy pears, breadcrumbs..a very nice trio.
“A Smashing Pumpkin Pangrattato”
(very much based on Nigel Slater’s version with a few changes & additions)
For this version you will need the following:
2 lb pumpkin
3 cloves garlic
1/4 to 1/3 cup good olive oil
a finger size mild red chili
1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary leaves
the zest of half an orange
1 cup roughly chopped arugula leaves
3 cups fresh white breadcrumbs (I used a gluten-free sandwich bread)
Kerrygold butter (or any very good butter)
1. Using a sharp knife cut pumpkin in half, clean out seeds & membrane. Cut pumpkin into bite size chunks and cut away the peel.
2. Place chunks of pumpkin in a steamer basket over boiling water. Steam for about 10 minutes or just until pumpkin is slightly softened. Meanwhile…..
3. Prep other ingredients..mince garlic, thinly slice red chili, finely chop rosemary….
……peel & chop 2 hard crispy pears into bite-size chunks, roughly chop arugula, zest half an orange & toss bread into the food processor to make fresh breadcrumbs.
4. Pour half of the olive oil into a large heavy skillet & turn heat to medium. Add garlic & chili to skillet & cook for a few minutes until garlic just begins to turn golden.
5. Check steaming pumpkin with a knife. When it is barely softened remove from heat. Set aside.
6. Into skillet with garlic & chili add the chopped rosemary, orange zest, chopped arugula & bread crumbs.
7. The goal here to create the perfect “pangrattato/breadcrumbs” is to turn the soft breadcrumbs into beautiful golden brown crispy breadcrumbs without burning them. So leave on medium heat stirring often until ingredients are browned & crispy throughout. This might take about 10 minutes.Remove from heat
8. To assemble & bake turn the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a casserole dish & add in steamed pumpkin. Scatter chopped pear over the pumpkin.
9. Lastly scatter top of pumpkin-pears with a few pieces of Kerrygold butter. Sprinkle pangrattato/breadcrumbs over top evenly. Drizzle with a bit more of the olive oil & bake for about 30-40 minutes. Top will be very golden brown & the pumpkin & pears will be softened but still holding their shape.
10. This dish can be eaten as a main course or side dish, but for our dinner I cooked up some Quinoa pasta & tossed it with a few tablespoons of olive oil & black pepper & salt. The serving of pasta was then topped with Pumpkin Pangrattato, a few shreds of freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano along side a glass of slightly chilled Pinot Noir which was one perfect Sunday dinner for a warm October evening in Nashville.
Some Music for October evenings:
“October” (Song & Album, U2) Universal Island Records 2008
“Red Hot Chili Peppers Snow ((Hey OH))” Warner Bros 2006
“Farm Fresh Onions” (song & album, Robert Earl Keen) 2003 Koch Records
“October Song” (Song/Album”Frank”, Amy Winehouse)
“1979” (Smashing Pumpkins, Smashing Pumpkins Greatest Hits) 2001
“Parsley Sage Rosemary & Thyme” (Album Simon & Garfunkel)1966