Pumpkin plays a central role in many recipes in Italian cuisine. Its distinctly autumnal seasonality (from September to November) justifies the creation of some recipes that have marked the history of Italian culinary tradition during the colder months.
Don’t be biased; we don’t just make soups and risotto with pumpkin in Italy! Whether it’s a holiday, a village fair, or even a casual dinner with friends, it can be your trump card if you know how to make the most of it. Let’s discover together some of the most renowned and delicious Italian recipes featuring pumpkin, the true queen of this delightful menu. Enjoy your meal!
Gnocchi with Barucca Pumpkin
It is a simple yet fortunate recipe that has been the success of Venetian lagoon farmers for a long time. The main ingredient is Barucca pumpkin, also known as marine pumpkin, imported from the Americas. This is a typical recipe from the Venetian tradition.
- 100g smoked ricotta
- 120g butter
- 2 eggs
- 300g flour
- 1.5kg Barucca pumpkin
- Cut the pumpkin into pieces and bake it in a preheated oven at 180 °C for about 30–40 minutes until cooked. Pass the pulp through a sieve and pour it into a bowl. Add eggs, flour, and a pinch of salt. Mix the ingredients well, being careful not to make the dough too hard.
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan until it becomes hazelnut-colored. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Collect a teaspoon of dough and let it slide into the pot, using another teaspoon to help, repeating the operation as quickly as possible.
- Drain the gnocchi as soon as they come to the surface and place them on a hot serving plate. Grate smoked ricotta over them, pour the very hot butter, and serve.
Sweet Cake with Trombetta d’Albenga Pumpkin
Let’s move to Albenga, in Liguria. The star of the dish is the Trombetta pumpkin, so named because of its twisted shape. Like most Ligurian savory pies, it features thin layers of puff pastry made from flour, water, and oil, enclosing a dense, soft, and velvety filling.
- 250g “00” or Manitoba flour
- 120ml lukewarm water
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- A pinch of salt
- 1kg pumpkin
- 1 medium red onion
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus an extra tablespoon to grease the pastry layers
- 4 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 2 tablespoons ricotta
- 3 eggs
Place the flour in a bowl, add 80% of the water, and two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, and start kneading. Turn the dough onto a well-floured work surface and continue kneading by pressing the dough with the palm of your hand for another 5-10 minutes. The dough should remain very soft; add the flour little by little, dusting the work surface, and only when the dough tends to stick to your hands. Divide the dough into 6 small balls of the same size, cover them with plastic wrap or a damp cloth, and let them rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
After preheating the oven to 200°C, place slices of pumpkin about 1 cm thick on a parchment-lined baking sheet, sprinkle with a little oil and salt, and bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until cooked. In the meantime, sauté the thinly sliced onion over medium heat with 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. When the pumpkin is ready, remove the skin and put the pulp in the pan with the onions; sauté for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, put the pumpkin in a large bowl, and add the eggs, Parmesan, and ricotta. Mix everything well, taste, and adjust salt, pepper, and nutmeg to your liking.
Grease a 22- or 24-cm diameter cake pan with olive oil. Roll out one of the dough balls previously made on the cake pan; be careful; it must be a very thin pastry; and brush it with olive oil. Repeat the process with the other two dough balls. After finishing the base with three layers of pastry, pour the pumpkin filling inside, spreading it evenly. Cover the cake with the other three layers, following the same procedure. Remember to grease each layer before overlapping the next one. After finishing the cover, cut off the excess dough along the edges of the pan and flip it inward to seal the dough and create the edge. Grease the surface again, and sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the pastry appears well golden and crispy.
Mantuan Pumpkin Turtelli
The recipe calls for pumpkin, nicknamed the priest’s hat due to its shape, resembling the headgear used around the 1950s. We move to Mantua (Mantova), in Lombardy.
- 600g “00” flour
- 6 eggs
- Salt to taste
- 1 kg, preferably Mantuan pumpkin
- 160g amaretti cookies
- 160g Mantuan mustard
- 180g Grana Padano cheese
- 80g butter
- Nutmeg to taste
- Salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- Butter and Grana Padano cheese (for filling)
Open the pumpkin, clean it from seeds, cut it into pieces, and bake it in a moderate oven; remove it from the oven and pass it through a sieve. Place the obtained purée in a bowl; add finely chopped amaretti cookies, chopped mustard, 160g of Grana, salt, and pepper; and work the mixture until you get a dry filling. With the flour, a little salt, and the eggs, prepare the dough, roll it out, and cut it into rectangles about 8 cm x 4 cm; distribute a teaspoon of the filling on the pasta rectangles and close them in rectangles, making sure to press the edges well. Cook in plenty of salted water dress with melted butter and sprinkle with plenty of Parmesan.
Grilled Pumpkin with Garlic and Chili
It’s an original recipe from the Neapolitan countryside, but it has quickly conquered the entire peninsula. The main product is the historic Neapolitan pumpkin. Let’s now see the recipe:
- 300g pumpkin
- 1 clove garlic
- Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
- Salt to taste
- 1 sprig rosemary
- A pinch of oregano
- Chili to taste (optional)
- Vinegar to taste (optional)
Cut the pumpkin into slices no thicker than 3 mm, removing the skin. Preheat a griddle or grill pan over medium heat to avoid sticking the pumpkin slices to the surface. Enjoy your meal!