If you’re at all into food blogging and pumpkin, you’ve probably become aware of the Great Pumpkin Shortage of 2009. That is to say, canned pumpkin puree is pretty much MIA. You can go ahead and search every grocery store in your town and your mother’s, and you’ll be lucky to snag a single can. I confess, I find this a bit ironic considering the harvest of fresh pumpkins and winter squash of all varieties I’ve been seeing at the local farms, and even in the supermarkets.
The filling came to me in the next few days. I wavered between sweet and savory, but ultimately decided to do a barley orzotto with porcini mushrooms, sage, and pecorino romano. Usually, I use a splash of white wine in this risotto-like dish, but I really didn’t want to open a bottle just to make a little dish for two, so I was just planning to skip it. However, once I was in the kitchen and sauteing in the onions, I got a little nervous that the final dish was going to be missing something. I searched for some marsala or sherry, which would nicely compliment the mushrooms, but no luck. Then I peeped in the liquor cabinet. Frangelico! Perfect. A little unorthodox, maybe, but I thought the sweet nuttiness would bring out the flavor of the squash and nicely contrast with the earthy mushrooms and sage.
1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms
2 tsp olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped onions
freshly ground salt & pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 cup pearl barley
1 ounce hazelnut liquor
2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you want to make this a vegetarian meal)
1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
1/2 ounce pecorino romano cheese
Pour about 1 cup of boiling water over the mushrooms and let sit for about 15 minutes. Drain the mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid in a small saucepan. Chop the mushrooms and set aside.
Add the chicken broth to the mushroom water and set over very low heat, just to keep warm.
In a saucepan over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Cook the onions for about 10 minutes, until softened, then add the garlic, salt & pepper, and nutmeg, and cook 1 minute more. Add the barley, stirring to combine with the other ingredients and letting it toast for a few minutes.
Add the hazelnut liquor, and cook, stirring, until liquid evaporates. Then, start adding the broth. Add a ladle at a time, cooking over medium heat and stirring occasionally. Let the barley absorb each addition fully before adding the next, and continue until all the liquid has been added and the barley is tender. It will take about 45-50 minutes.
Meanwhile, scoop a bit of flesh from each pumpkin, so that you have about 1/4 cup total. Preheat oven to 350.
When the barley is done, stir in the 1/4 cup pumpkin puree, chopped mushrooms, sage, and pecorino romano. Divide the mixture among the two pumpkins. Bake for about 15 minutes, until pumpkins are heated through.
Servings Per Recipe: 2
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat: 7.7 g
Cholesterol: 7.5 mg
Sodium: 220.6 mg
Total Carbs: 64.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 15.8 g
Protein: 12.7 g
*Note: I wasn’t quite sure how to account for the calories from the pumpkins. Weight of raw pumpkin wouldn’t work, even after removing the seeds and stringy flesh, since the entire shell of skin is left behind and not consumed. I decided to estimate the amount of cooked pumpkin flesh instead. The nutritional info is calculated assuming each pumpkin contributes 1 cup of cooked pumpkin puree. I figured that this is probably an overestimate, but I feel better about that than underestimating.