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La Zucca, l'ortaggio dell'Autunno

Pumpkin, autumn vegetable

Autumn now arrived and we today want to talk to you about a vegetable that is among the protagonists of this season, the pumpkin.
With its characteristic and cheerful orange color, dense and solid pulp, and a hard and thick peel, the pumpkin is not appreciated only for its sweet and delicate taste and its enormous versatility in the kitchen, but also for the excellent properties that It has for our body.

Cucurbeata belonging to the October and November seasonal fruits and vegetables, the pumpkin is originally from Central America, arrived in Europe in the 16th century, thus spreading throughout the Mediterranean for the favorable climatic conditions and land composition, which have His cultivation facilitated, and today is widely used in the kitchen also in our country.

In the Mediterranean gastronomic tradition, the pumpkin, vegetable with a pleasant and sweetish flavor, associated with aromatic herbs and spices that enrich the nutraceutical properties, represents the basis for the preparation of soups and soups, but also jams, sweets, ravioli, gnocchi, contours , without forgetting the Pumpkin Tortelli of the Emilian tradition. It is a widely widespread product, naturally in the Mediterranean agri-food production, historically present in the eating habits of each social class: at the Neapolitan court of Ferdinando IV of Borbone the pumpkins often made part of the menu, prepared by the famous eighteenth-century chef Vincenzo Corrado, and certainly did not lack In peasant houses.

The pumpkins are characterized by the classic orange pulp color. Instead, the rind can vary considerably colored. In some varieties it can move to other yellow-orange shades both clear and dark and terrose. This is the case of "pumpkin cake" or "pumpkin violina" and the "full of Naples", widespread in southern Italy. In others the peel has a green-gray color, such as the typical "Chioggia pumpkin" also called "marine pumpkin" or "delicate pumpkin". The pumpkins are mainly grown in the low Lombard plain, in Veneto, in the areas of the Po and Alto delta and of the High Polesine, in Emilia-Romagna and Campania. Another very note variety is then the "capsettina", typical of Lungavilla in the province of Pavia, aqueous, and from the very thin peel.

Most of the pumpkin is composed of water (92%), with the remaining percentage comprising, in decreasing order for quantity, sugars, proteins and fats. Very rich in fiber, pumpkin is a true concentration of vitamins and minerals (Vitamins A, C, E, K, J, group B, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, iron, soccer, zinc, sodium). The abundant amount of water makes it a diuretic and supportive vegetable in the event of constipation, acting, together with the fiber and the rich vitamin content and minerals, from natural laxative. Furthermore, its extremely low calorie intake (about 18 calories per 100 grams of fresh food), makes this vegetable vegetable a great food for diabetics and hypocaloric diets, thanks to its reduced quantity of glucides and fats, and The very low percentage of simple sugars.

With 18 kcc every 100 g, yellow and raw pumpkin, in fact, contains:
94 g of water
3.5 g of carbohydrates
1 g of protein
0.1 g of lipids
0.9 mg of iron
40 mg of phosphorus
202 mg of potassium
0.2 mg of zinc
A: 599 (μg)
B1: 0.03 mg
C: 9 mg
D: 5 mg
E: 1.06 mg
BetaCarotene: 3594 (μg)

The pumpkin, then, in addition to being rich in omega-3 fatty acids, renowned for the beneficial effects on the cardiocirculatory apparatus is, like all orange food, full of betacarotene, the antioxidant from which vitamin is synthesized A, and which is very useful to counter free radicals, to prevent cellular and tissue aging; It also protects the circulatory system and explicoped general anti-inflammatory activity.
Its content of phytonutrients is quite varied, with a good concentration of alkaloids and flavonoids, substances that help the defense of the joints, and that make it a great ally to use instead of potatoes (which must be absolutely avoided, we remember it, in the regime antiarricate food).
The properties of the pumpkin are also beneficial for sleep and mood, thanks to the presence of different amino acids, including tryptophan, substance that helps the production of serotonin, useful against insomnia and depression. The pumpkin therefore exerts a real calming effect, in case of anxiety, nervousness, insomnia, stress. Furthermore, its magnesium content that is a natural muscular relaxing, brings immediate psycho-physical benefits to the organism. Finally, the pumpkin is recommended in particular if you suffer from sleep disorders or hormonal imbalances, such as those that can affect menopausal women.
As for the choice, if the pumpkin is whole, there are sufficient lights on the peel: it must emit deaf sound. If instead the pumpkin is already cut into pieces, it is necessary to pay attention to the surface that must not be too dry or too mature, while the seeds must be damp and slippery. Furthermore, it is important that the petiole is intact and well attached and the peel without dents. Generally, to recognize a good pumpkin it is necessary to wise its pulp, whose cutting hardness is an index of freshness detector.
Furthermore, the whole pumpkin can also be preserved throughout the winter as long as the environment is fresh and dry, if instead the pumpkin is in pieces, better to keep it in the fridge, possibly wrapped in the transparent film and arranged together with the other vegetables. It should be consumed within a week.
For good conservation, it must be avoided to cause bruises to the fruit that accelerate the deterioration of the pulp. It can also be frozen, better if boiled or steamed.

In the kitchen the pumpkin turns out to be one of the most versatile foods, and many good is used in the preparation of both sweet and savory recipes. Instead, it is unknown to the more the fact that the pumpkin can be consumed raw, so as to maintain its vitamin content unchanged. It can be otherwise steamed, baked, stewed or boiled. It is excellent for the preparation of velvety and its pulp can be boiled and smoothed to prepare a sauce for pizza or pasta dressing, replacing tomato sauce. The pumpkin is also excellent in combination with risottos and its cooked pulp and smoothed can be inserted between the ingredients for the preparation of homemade bread, which will purchase the characteristic yellow-orange color, as well as a unique flavor.
The tarts with pumpkin jam or, still, the most famous pumpkin cakes are also delicious.
Whatever the preparation for which you want to use, in any case, here is some tricks, in order to preserve intact all the properties that this rich vegetable offers us: the best method to cook pumpkin is certainly to cook its pulp at Steam, or baked. Lighting, on the other hand, should be avoided because many of the active ingredients are often lost, so if you want to use this cooking method it is good to shorten the times a lot, just time to soften the pulp slightly.

Let us also remember the usefulness of its seeds, which can in fact be rinsed, dried and dried to the open air, and then be toasted in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 180 ° C and consumed as a snack or used as a condiment . Finally, it should be remembered, pumpkin seed oil has anti-inflammatory properties, especially in cases of arthritis.

On the skin, the chopped pulp, applied directly to the stakeholders, can help soothe skin inflammation, while the peel can be used for small burns. It is useful for skin health and prevents couperose. You can reduce a little pulp, mix it to a spoonful of honey and add a handful of pumpkin seeds, very fine chopped, applying the mask over the whole face, leaving it posing for 15 minutes, and then rinse with warm water .

Dr. Lucia Hope
Our recipe

Pumpkin risotto
To cook the pumpkin risotto, start preparing a light vegetable broth, you will use to bring the rice to cook. Cut the vegetables, place them in a large saucepan, cover with water and regulated salt.
Cover with a lid, bring to a boil and cook for about 1 hour. Filter the broth and keep it warmly. Then to the pumpkin: clean it, cut it into slices and from them obtained of the small cubes. Finely the onion and place it in a wide pan in which you have warmed the oil. Leave the onion over a sweet focus for about 10 minutes, until it is so tender to melt. At that point add the pumpkin and brown it for a few minutes, stirring not to make it stick.
Then start adding a ladle of broth, and add more, little by little up to cook the pumpkin (about 20 minutes): it will have to be well tender and creamy. Apart from, heat a large pan and throw the rice to make it toast. We use the dry method because the roasting of the rice, indispensable because then the beans hold cooking, cannot take place in a wet environment like that created in the pan with the pumpkin.
Then toasted the rice over high heat to make it opalescent, turning it often so as not to burn it. It will take 2-3 minutes. Then soften with white wine and stir immediately to not stick. As soon as the wine will be completely evaporated pour the rice in the pan with the pumpkin. Mix well to mix the flavors and prevent rice to stick.
As soon as the risotto begins to dry, add a ladle of hot broth, and continue gradually adding the next only when the previous one has been absorbed, until reaching the right degree of cooking. It will take 15-20 minutes depending on the rice used. Towards regulated cooking of pepper and salt. Finally, on fire extinguished, stir with butter and cheese. Move carefully, then add a last ladle of broth if you prefer a more creamy risotto ("to the wave"). Let a minute rake before stacking and enjoying!

Rice and cheese can find them on www.sudrise.com

Pumpkin on the plate
Photo taken from the yellow saffron site

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