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While I was living with Nonna and her family in Viterbo, Nonna was very excited one day to show me a molto particulare recipe. Well, I was intrigued, to say the least. The more she went on about it, the more it seemed familiar to me. And when she got to the part where “la crosta va sopra la parte superiore del frutto,” I knew exactly what she was talking about. What other dessert has a crust that is poured over the top of raw fruit before being baked? A cobbler.
“Nonna, conosco questa ricetta.” – “Nonna, I know this recipe.”
“Davvero, Marco?” – “Really, Mark?”
And with the nod of my head “Yes,” I had deflated Nonna’s enthusiasm for showing me her Italian cobbler recipe.
She perked up though, while I was eating her “Mixed Berry Cobbler” (you can find that recipe on my “Beyond the Pasta” iTune app for the iPad/iPhone), when I explained to her that I really enjoyed her version of a cobbler because it wasn’t as sweet as a typical American cobbler. I had seconds and, in Nonna’s eyes, that made up for any “pre-knowledge” I had of the cobbler recipe.
Taking Nonna’s berry recipe and twisting it with my love of fresh pumpkin, something that most people here do not cook with or eat, below is my recipe for “Pumpkin Cobbler.”
It builds on the idea of eating baked, chunked pumpkin with apples and pears (wonderful fall flavor companions) under a quick crust. I mean, that is the beauty of a cobbler —no pie crust to make! Just a couple of common refrigerator ingredients mixed in a bowl and you have a cake-like crust! Also, if you substitute dried cranberries for the black currants, you’ll take this cobbler all the way through October straight to the Thanksgiving table!
Pumpkins that I like to use in this recipe are Pie Pumpkin, Blue Jarrahdale, Cinderella, or Sugar Baby. You may also substitute Turban squash or Buttercup squash for the pumpkin—though technically, pumpkin is a squash, too. The Turban and Buttercup are sweet squashes and will remind you of sweet potatoes in flavor.
Pumpkins are wonderful to use for savory dishes, too. Here are some links to my savory pumpkin recipes that are featured on Paula Deen’s website:
~My feature article for PaulaDeen.com
Whether cooking savory or sweet, I hope you’ll carve up some cooking pumpkin this fall and treat yourself to the fantastic flavor and texture of fresh pumpkin—and squash.
Pumpkin, Apple & Pear Cobbler
For the filling:
1 2 1/2- to 2 3/4-pound baking pumpkin, stem removed, de-seeded, peeled and cut into 1-inch-thick cubes—yielding 4 cups cubed flesh (Pie Pumpkin, Sugar Baby Pumpkin, Blue Pumpkin, Turban Squash, or Buttercup Squash may be used.)
2 Granny Smith apples, peels left on, cored, cut into 1-inch-thick cubes
2 pears, peels left on, cored, cut into 1-inch-thick cubes (Bartlett or red pears may be used)
1/2 cup dried black currants (raisins or dried cranberries may be substituted)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
For the topping:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup whole milk
11 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and then cooled to room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch Kosher or sea salt
*Powdered sugar for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 2-quart baking dish.
In a large bowl, add the filling ingredients and stir well to combine. Poured into the prepared baking dish, evenly distributing the fruit throughout.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Add the sugar, stirring to combine. Pour in the milk, melted butter, vanilla and salt. Mix until a smooth batter is formed.
Pour the batter over the top of the fruit, spreading to completely cover.
Bake for 1 hour, until the top is nicely browned and the fruit is bubbling underneath. Remove to a wire rack and let cool 15 minutes before serving. Spoon into individual bowls, dusting the crust of each serving with powdered sugar. Best served warm, but may be served at room temperature.
Serves 8 to 10.