Of Peanuts, butternuts and big pumpkins

So, it's Halloween time...yay!!!
Just kidding. I've grown up in Italy, where Halloween is not part of the culture. The first time I heard about it was probably reading Peanuts and all the comics with the big pumpkin.

Until recent years, Halloween stayed where it belonged. Not in Italy or among Italian people, where superstition is rampant and celebrating death and horror was taboo. The times, they are a'changing, apparently. I am not in Italy any more, but I hear that celebrating Halloween is now very trendy, almost compulsory. There are even parties in school for this occasion as (maybe even more than) for Christmas.

Anyway, the place where I live now is no exception and today in the canteen people where talking about the thematic parties of the week end. But I am old and grumpy and boring. So this post won't have much to do with Halloween.

The only thing I like about Halloween are...pumpkins.
I like eating very much. And luckily enough, I like cooking too.

So, instead of going out in a witch dress, this Friday evening I found an hour to celebrate the eve of the week end with a new recipe: risotto with Pumpkin.
Healthy, simple, delicious.

Here is how to go for 4 portions.
First, you need a pumpkin. Oh, thanks Troubleshooter, what a surprise. *slow clap*. But not any pumpkin. One which is tasty and not too watery.
My choice was a butternut pumpkin. A Peanuts butternut big pumpkin. The variety I am talking about is this one in the picture, called butternut pumpkin or butternut squash (Cucurbita moschata).


The one I used came from the vegetable garden of my uncle. Unfortunately, I am a simple person and I didn't think of taking a picture. Believe me when I say it was spectacular. It made at least 4 kg, I think. And it smelled sooo good.

Instead of wasting it to make something useless like this:



I sliced a piece of around 600 g and I peeled it, then cut it in cubes of around 1 cm3.
I also cut a shallot in very small pieces.
The original recipe says that you should prepare a vegetable broth, but it takes too long, I am lazy and I have not that much time with a baby of 8 weeks. So I did as the true chefs in the Michelin-starred restaurants do: I boiled a liter of water and I put a vegetable stock cube inside.

Shut up mate you do the same
Then I put some oil in a saucepan and browned the shallot very slowly until it was golden and it melted.


I added the pumpkin and poured a ladleful of broth and went on doing it until the pumpkin was cooked. In my case it took around 10 minutes, but there are too many variables to be scientific on the duration: materials, quality of the pumpkin, temperature, etc.

I also added some rosemary. The original recipe does not mention it, but hey, I am a chef and I adapt recipes to my taste. Jokes apart, pumpkin and rosemary go well together.

For all the duration, stir it regularly, so that it does not stick to the bottom of the saucepan.
The pumpkin will be ready when it is tender. Good opportunity to taste it.

When it's done, add 320 g of rice. The original recipe says it must be Carnaroli rice. By all means. Well, where I live I should sell a kidney to have it, so I went for a thai rice from the local discount and the result didn't suffer of it.

Go on pouring it with the broth until the rice is cooked. Stir regularly. Timing depends again on too many variables. Let's adopt a scientific approach: after 8 minutes start tasting it.

When it's cooked, add a knob of butter and around 80 g of parmesan cheese.

Taste it and add salt and pepper to taste. Not too much, please. I know that in some European countries outside Italy they use to put lots of salt. But you would kill the risotto and the pumpkin with one shot. Do like this: two pinces of salt and one pinch of pepper. Maximum. If you like it, replace the pepper with a pinch of nutmeg. Stir it and voilà! It's ready.

I would be very proud of showing you the result, but I am not a fan of foodporn, so I ate it instead of taking pictures. You should have something like this:


How was it? It was for four, we are two (three actually, but the little one doesn't eat risotto yet), but there isn't any left. Even if maths is rocket science for some people, I'm sure you can make the calculation.

To give some appearance of scientificity to this blog, let's talk about the nutritional benefits of pumpkins.

Pumpkins contain many fibers and have a good supply of vitamins A, C and E and of beta-carotene. Additionally, it is a good source of minerals, among them calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and potassium.
Fat is low and it is mainly in the form of  Omega 3 fat, which is good for the heart. Rich in water, poor in sugar, pumpkin contains very few calories, aroun 15 kcal every 100 g.

It has so many benefits on our health that I can only summarise some of them: stress reduction (with all the good consequences on sleep, skin and hair), benefits for the digestive system (until the very bottom of it) and improvement of the immune system.

A lot of good reasons to make a good use of pumpkins.

Bon appétit!

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