The smell of this cooking will take right to the heart of an Italian kitchen. Expect to fall in love!
1 kg (2 lb 2 oz) grey (also known as crown pumpkin) or ‘butterkin’ pumpkin (smallish orange-skin, bright orange flesh) 250g (8-9 oz) ricotta Finely grated zest 1 small lemon 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese Freshly ground black pepper Flaky sea salt 1 Tbsp butter, melted, plus extra for greasing dish 1 cup Tomato Passata ¼ cup small basil leaves 2 Tbsp pine nuts
1 Cut pumpkin into large pieces and scoop out seeds and fibre. Place pieces in a steaming basket and steam over water until three-quarters cooked. Don’t overcook the pumpkin or you will end up with a purée. Transfer pumpkin pieces to a board and leave to cool, then peel or slice off skin.
2 Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F). Whip ricotta, lemon zest, 2 tablespoons of the parmesan, a little black pepper and a few good pinches of sea salt in a bowl. Lay half the pumpkin in a buttered ovenproof dish and season with a little salt. Spread with half the ricotta, then half the tomato passata. Scatter with parmesan and basil leaves, then repeat the layers. Scatter pine nuts over the top and drizzle with melted butter. The dish can be prepared ahead to this point – 1 hour at room temperature, or 3-4 hours in the fridge, but bring to room temperature before cooking.
3 Bake for 15-20, until golden on top and bubbling around the edges. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Tomato Passata is an Italian product, a thick rich Italian tomato purée (paste) without seeds and skins. It has a deep sweet tomato flavour. You could replace it in this dish with homemade tomato sauce.
Choose a firm-fleshed pumpkin. It needs to be cooked until it is nearly tender but you must be careful not to take it too far or it will lose shape and texture. It’s a bit of a Goldilocks one – if you don’t cook it enough, it will be hard in the finished dish, (it’s just right in the middle!). Read all about pumpkins Pumpkins
Steaming the pumpkin rather than cooking it in water will help prevent it becoming soggy.