Massimiliano Alajmo of Le Calandre, 3-star Michelin in Italy, unveils a never-before-published recipe to food activist and educator Charles Michel showcasing Chioggia Marina Pumpkin.
Chioggia marina pumpkin is an heirloom variety of squash featured on Slow Food’s Ark of Taste. The whimsical, green exterior of this autumnal squash contrasts the deep, complex flavor profile of its orange flesh, exhibiting sweet and mineral notes. Alajmo explains that "Suca Baruca" — the original name of this pumpkin — used to be prolific in the 18th century around the fishing village of Chioggia near Venice, and that people consumed it as a street food!
He also reveals some techniques on how to cook the pumpkin (seeds and all!), drawing attention to the fact that the art of cooking isn’t about the bells and whistles. In fact, the passing of time is itself an important ingredient, since traditions and nostalgia evolve over generations. In Alajmo’s own words, “sometimes it’s better to not speak, but feel.” The Alajmo philosophy is to listen to the ingredient, let it speak its truth, interpreting the product to allow the farmer’s, and nature's, work to shine.
Chiogga Marina Squash and Cinnamon Risotto
Slice squash into 4 cm thick pieces. Roast in a 180 C degree oven for 50 minutes with pumpkin seeds, then set aside and remove the skin. The weight of the squash will reduce by half.
Place extra virgin olive oil in a wide pot over medium high heat and add rice. Toast the rice, then add white wine and let evaporate. Add about 160 grams of stewed pumpkin, onion, 24 pumpkin seeds and a pinch of salt, continue cooking by adding boiling vegetable or hen broth, a ladleful at a time.
Once the rice is al dente, add a bit more stewed pumpkin and stir in butter, parmigiano and lemon juice.
Serve the risotto in a warm bowl and top with a pinch of cinnamon powder.
Finish with the remaining pumpkin seeds and a spoonful of stewed pumpkin reduced into a puree in the center of the dish.