Sunday, November 1, 2009

Hey there, pumpkin!

Do you have people who are squeamish about squash? Not up for a savory, salt-and-peppered spaghetti squash, or a steamy mashed butternut? Don't worry. There's always the fallback gourd, the perennial staple of autumn. It's probably sitting on your front porch this morning, sad and withered with the stump of a candle inside.

Pumpkin is perfect for pizza. After all, it may be indigenous to the New World, but it has definitely been embraced by Italian cooks. In fact, it probably ranks right behind tomatoes and corn as one of the Mediterranean nation’s favorite American imports.

Italians enjoy suash in gnocchi, as a sauce for pasta, as a filling in ravioli, layered in lasagna. (A quick tour of will yield plenty of pumpkin-rich recipes from Italian celeb chefs like Mario Batali, Giada DiLaurentiis and Rachael Ray.) Some baked or steamed squash chunks on a classic cheese pizza are actually a delicious addition. A smear of pureed pumpkin instead of tomato sauce, with a layer of mozzarella and a drizzle of olive oil with a smattering of sage is also delicious.

But it's also traditionally delicious as dessert. Plus, it’s already familiar as one of our favorite pies. Why wait until Thanksgiving to dig into a slice of your favorite spicy squash? You can make a great pumpkin pizza any time of year.

1 pizza crust

1 c. canned pumpkin

1 c. mascarpone or cream cheese

½ c. brown sugar

1 egg

1 t. cinnamon

¼ t. nutmeg

¼ t. ginger

½ c. crushed gingersnaps

½ c. chopped pecans

1 T. butter, melted

Whipped cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pizza crust on baking sheet.

In a bowl, beat pumpkin with cream cheese and sugar until well-combined. Add egg and spices. Spread on pizza crust. DON'T overload your crust. If you have more filling than you need, you can bake it in muffin or custard cups alongside the pizza.

In another bowl, toss gingersnaps, nuts and butter. Sprinkle over pumpkin layer. Bake 20 minutes. Allow to cool 5-10 minutes before slicing. Serve with whipped cream.

Extra Extra!!!

Fruity facts – Like tomatoes, pumpkins have suffered through years of species confusion. The orange globes are not vegetables, they are fruits. In fact, they are members of the family Cucurbitacae, the same viny clan that produces cucumbers, gourds, melons and a host of other squash. I mean, squashes. Or maybe squashi? (

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