Pumpkin outside the pie | NevadaAppeal.com

Pumpkin outside the pie

For AP Weekly Features
Larry Crowe/Associated Press Peppery Pumpkin Risotto blends the sweetness of pumpkin with the heat of cayenne and ginger.

In New Hampshire, pumpkins are the law.

That’s because a group of civic-minded elementary school pupils this year led a successful campaign to make all those orange orbs destined for pies and jack-o’-lanterns the official state fruit.

Their inspiration? Ostensibly, to learn how bills become laws. But the Harrisville, N.H., children probably couldn’t help but be a bit influenced by their state’s many pumpkin festivals, including the mother-of-them-all in nearby Keene.

That festival (held Oct. 21 this year), began in 1991 and typically attracts 50,000 visitors to see the sometimes record-setting number (28,592 in 2003) of carved pumpkins that line Main Street.

But long before pumpkins were teaching children how to lobby lawmakers, the region’s American Indians were teaching settlers how to eat them. And from those early efforts was born the beloved pumpkin pie.

Pumpkins come in many shapes and sizes, but the smaller sugar or New England pie varieties are best suited for eating.

Dan Dumont, executive chef at the Wentworth by the Sea resort in New Castle, N.H., likes to roast 2- to 3-pound sugar pumpkins, then puree the soft flesh and use it in gnocchi.

To make pumpkin puree, Dumont advises selecting a 2- to 4-pound pumpkin with no soft spots (it should yield about 1 1/2 cups of mashed pumpkin). To prepare the pumpkin, cut it in half and remove the stringy fibers and seeds.

The flesh then can be boiled or roasted. To boil, cut the pumpkin into chunks and place them in a pan. Cover the chunks with water, bring to a boil and cook until tender when pierced with a fork.

To roast, place the pumpkin halves cut side down on an oiled baking sheet and roast for about 1 1/2 hours in a 350 F oven.

Once the pumpkin is tender, remove the flesh and mash it with a potato masher. The puree will keep for up to three days in the refrigerator. It also freezes well.

Pumpkin Sage Gnocchi

(Start to finish 45 minutes)

For the gnocchi:

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 1/4 cups water

12 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

5 large or 6 medium eggs

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and white pepper, to taste

For the sauce:

1/4 cup unsalted butter

10 fresh sage leaves chopped

1/8 cup pine nuts

Juice of half a lemon

Salt and white pepper, to taste

Parmesan cheese, for garnish

In a small bowl, combine the pumpkin puree with the cinnamon and brown sugar. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat the water, butter and salt over a medium heat until the butter has melted. Sprinkle in the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Continue stirring until the dough pulls away from the sides.

Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the pumpkin puree and mix on low speed until blended. Add eggs one at a time with mixer on low, then add sage, chives, parsley, cheese, salt and pepper, mixing until just incorporated.

Transfer the mixture into either a piping bag, or large plastic zip-close with the corner snipped off. Squeeze the bag over the pot of boiling water. As the dough comes out, use a knife or scissors to cut off 3/4-inch lengths. Let the gnocchi fall into the water and cook until they float, about 30 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to remove gnocchi once they’ve cooked. Let cool on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper while preparing the sauce.

For the sauce, in a large skillet heat the butter until it melts and foams. Once it begins to brown, add the sage. When the sage begins to sizzle, add the pine nuts and juice of half a lemon. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the gnocchi and toss gently to coat. To serve, garnish with Parmesan shavings.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

• Recipe from Dan Dumont, executive chef at the Wentworth by the Sea resort in New Castle, N.H.

Peppery Pumpkin Risotto

(Start to finish 40 minutes)

1 3/4 cups Arborio rice

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon butter (soy margarine also can be used)

1 small yellow onion, diced

1/2 cup sweet white wine, such as Riesling

4 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree

1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Rinse the rice in a mesh strainer and drain.

In a large skillet, combine the oil, butter and onion and saute over a medium heat until the onion is soft, about 6 minutes.

Add the rice and stir until well coated with oil and butter. Increase heat to medium-high and add the wine. Stir constantly until the wine has been absorbed.

Begin to add broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and adding more liquid as it is absorbed.

Once the rice has absorbed all the broth, reduce heat to medium-low. Taste to check the texture. The rice should be firm, but cooked through. If the rice is too hard or dry, add additional broth, 1/2 cup at a time.

When the rice reaches the desired texture, stir in the pumpkin, ginger and cayenne pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the cheese, then season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes 4 servings.

• Recipe from J.M. Hirsch.