As I am typing, I am struggling to stay awake and not snuggle back into bed, although it is already 11am here in Italy. It has been a packed week and my body is telling me I have limits. Ha! Damn you, body! I am hoping writing this post and sharing with you a few moments of my life will bring back the alertness. If not, well, atleast I'll have a post written and I'll go jolt myself with 'un cafe macchiato'. :) Like they say, what doesn't kill you..... finds itself in coffee to make you stronger!
Allora, the story of today, is about pumpkins. After Thanksgiving, pumpkins are relegated to being the second grade actors in most US homes. Beyond a bit of pumpkin pie or a soup here and there, you do not hear a whole lot about these delicious vegetables. In Italy though, I find that this is a rather revered produce!
So much so that one of the traditional dishes served around Christmas in the region of Emilia Romagna is Tortelli di Zucca. The stuffing for this ravioli is made with a particular varietal of pumpkin called Violina pumpkin which is cherished for its rich texture and silky sweetness. Indeed, the dish though particularly sought during the Holidays, is enjoyed throughout the pumpkin season. Not everyday though! Unlike common Western notions, Italians, have filled pasta only once a week, typically Sunday. The rest of the day is regular pasta. Because, filled pasta takes time to make from scratch or is more expensive to buy. So, you won't be seeing that as a regular on an Italian dinner table.
The pumpkin itself is named so for its shape that somehow resembles a violin in someone's eyes. I don't quite get that comparison but I can attest to its amazing flavor. Between a butternut squash and pumpkin in flavor, texture and creaminess, it is indeed versatile from soups, to sauces to pasta fillings.
It is also large and when it is 50 cents a pound, it is easy to get greedy and then left to rack your brains for ideas to use it up. Well, once I ran out of all the aforementioned ideas, I was still left with quite some pumpkin pieces and a very hungry person looking for anything non-Italian like in food. Thus, was the spark of imagination.. You know, great hardships result in great innovations.... Something like that!
I present to you Violina Red Hummus!!! Made with red lentils, lots of pumpkin and other typical spices in hummus. It is super easy, comes together in less than 30 minutes and if you are done spreading it on bread, you can dilute it like a soup or use it as pasta sauce. Like I said, versatility is the order of the day! And, to make it a whole-r meal, some spice, cumin and sumac lamb is that is needed. This is a wonderful warm meal for the cold; it warms you up from inside. If you cannot find this particular type of pumpkin where you are, you can substitute with butternut squash.
This weekend I will be freezing my A off in Netherlands. You can follow my journey and trials to staying warm there through Instagram. Stay warm and have a great weekend!
Violina Red Hummus with Cumin, Sumac Lamb
For the hummus:
1 cup soaked red lentils
2 cups Violina pumpkin, substitute with butternut squash
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 shallot, sliced
2 tsp of cumin seeds
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 cup stock
olive oil as needed
For the lamb:
1/4 lb of minced lamb
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 red chillies, torn
1-1/2 tsp cumin powder
1-1/2 tsp sumac
salt as needed
In a pot, bring lentils, pumpkin, garlic, shallot and stock to a boil and lower heat to simmer and cook the lentils and pumpkin fully. You will be able to mash it into a rough puree at this stage.
Add to a food processor with the cumin seeds, lemon juice, salt, pepper and olive oil to make a smooth silky puree. Transfer to bowl.
In a skillet, saute the onion and garlic lightly until soft. Add the lamb, spices and salt and saute for a few minutes, until cooked.
Spread on top of the hummus, sprinkle pomegranate arils on top and serve!