I pulled a few of my cookbooks down from the shelves to see how different food cultures use pumpkin and squash. As long-keeping vegetables in times before refrigeration and freezing, they were popular with cooks from many nationalites. Today, we'll think Italian but watch for upcoming posts on other cultures.
But, in an Italian home, Nonna might also slow roast a whole pumpkin filled with cheese, bread, onions, mushrooms, or other savory items from the larder. It's a great way to use up leftovers!
This type of preparation can be served as a filling and flavorful main course when you are cooking for a vegetarian. And the variations used to stuff it can be adapted to other dietary restrictions.
Zucca is squash in Italian and Zucca alla Veneta is made by frying pumpkin slices and then dressing them with a seasoned vinegar. Zucca Dorata is breaded and fried pumpkin served as an appetizer. Sometimes mozzarella cheese is added for a melting finish. (Think eggplant parmesan!)
Mostarda di Zucca is a pumpkin preserve that can be served with cured meats. I’ll bet it would also be great on a cheese tray.
Of course, some cultures have their own member of the squash family that they call pumpkin. So be sure to check if our pumpkin is the best substitute and if the pumpkin you are buying is grown for eating or just for show.
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Words: Penny Cherubino
Photography: © 2010 Penny Cherubino
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