by Paolo Sari. Hi, I am Paolo Sari, the only Michelin starred Bio Chef Certified Organic Chef in the world, inviting you to join me in my Kitchen at the Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel. With its warm and welcoming colors reminiscent of the first cold autumn evenings, pumpkin has become a real symbol of this season in recent years and it is very popular at Halloween. As for the butternut squash it is a popular winter squash of a variety that has a bell-shaped fruit with sweet orange-yellow flesh. Etymologically speaking, the word pumpkin started its career as pumpion, borrowed from French pompon. The only recognizable part of this word was pump but you shouldn’t add the suffix -ion to that word, so speakers replaced it with a suffix you could, the diminutive suffix -kin, as in lambkin, munchkin, and mannikin. In a document from the Venice State Archive of 1483, the pumpkin that we also call gourd (courge in French language) is among the products grown in the garden of a monastery on an island in the northern lagoon near Torcello. It was a kind of pumpkin certainly different from today. Native to Central America and southern Africa, this type grown in Venice was probably imported from South Asia. In North Africa, in the ancient times it was known and cultivated in different varieties by Egyptians, Romans, Arabs and Greeks. Ateneo, a writer of ancient Greece who lived in Egypt in the city of Naucratis, reports that in the Greek city of Sicyon, located on the Gulf of Corinth, people worship a goddess of the pumpkin, called Kolokasya Athenai. The pumpkin as we know it today is probably native to Central America, because pumpkin seeds dating from 7000/6000 BC were found in Mexico. There, scientists observed that in these geographical zones pumpkins develop spontaneously.The cultivation of the pumpkin was not only for food but also as a container for milk and cereals, and doing the dishes, bowls and spoons as well. The selection of vegetables over the millennia allowed a larger food utilisation, also because the pulp of the first pumpkins was probably very bitter and people consumed only the seeds.
PUMPKIN GNOCCHI, BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP, SEASONAL CEREALS RISOTTO AND BUTTERNUT CONFIT
Preparation time: 90 minutes
Ingredients: serving 4
For the pumpkin gnocchi: 100 g potatoes, 300 g pumpkin “imperial elite”, 150 g flour, 2 egg yolks, salt, pepper, 1 leaf of sage, 30 g half-salt churn butter
For the butternut squash soup: 100 g potatoes, 300 g of butternut, 1 spoon of extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, 20 g shallots, 50 cl of vegetable broth, seasonal herbs.
For the cereals risotto: 60 g spelt, 60 g barley, 60 g black rice, Extra virgin olive oil 2 spoons, salt, pepper, 30 g half-salt churn butter, 20 g shallots, 40 cl of vegetable broth.
For the butternut confit: 300 g butternut, 5 cl pumpkin oil, salt, pepper, pumpkin seeds.
Method for the gnocchi: Cut the pumpkin “imperial elite” into slices, cover with aluminum foil and bake for one hour at 150° C – Wash the potatoes and put them in a pot with water and salt – Bring to a boil and cook for an hour – Drain and peel the potatoes when they are still hot – Crush them finely and place them in the middle of the board – Add the pumpkin pulp, the egg yolks, salt and pepper to season and the flour – Stir gently the ingredients to obtain a homogeneous preparation – Cut the dough and form thin cords by wrapping them on the board – Cut the cords two centimeters long and roll them with a fork, to get the gnocchi shape like in the image
Cook the gnocchi in the salted water for three minutes – Melt the butter with the sage, add the drained gnocchi and a spoon of cooking water to emulsify the sauce.
Method for the butternut confit: in the meantime, wash, peel and dice the interior of the butternut – In a saucepan, brown the shallot with the oil, add the potato and the diced butternut, salt, pepper, vegetal broth – Cook on a low heat for 45 minutes. Mix and season.
Method for the cerelas risotto: in the meantime, in three small saucepans fry the chopped shallot with oil, add in the first saucepan the spelt, in the second the barley and in the the third the black rice.
Add the vegetable broth on each saucepan and cook for 25 minutes as a risotto. Remove from the fire, add the butter and season.
To garnish the velouté soup: Slice the butternut into small lozenges. In a skillet saute with oil, salt, pepper and the pumpkin seeds.
Making the plate: Place the gnocchi in the middle, garnish with the cereals risotto and some herbs. Garnish with some pumpkin seeds and serve the butternut squash soup apart.