Benedetta’s Herbed Pumpkin Spread Recipe is a simple and vibrant combination of mashed pumpkin cooked with onion, parsley and basil. The deep earthy flavors are perfect for a fall or winter dish, and this dip can be served warm or at room temperature. Best of all, it is a one-pan dish, so very simple to prepare.
Benedetta’s Herbed Pumpkin Spread Recipe is excerpted from Cooking alla Giudia by Benedetta Jasmine Guetta (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2022. Photographs by Ray Kachatorian.
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Introduce yourself, Benedetta Jasmine Guetta!
I’m an Italian food writer and photographer. I was born in Milan and grew up in Italy, but I now live in Santa Monica, California. In 2009, I co-founded labna.it, the only Jewish/Kosher cooking blog in Italy. My latest cookbook, “Cooking alla Giudia”, focuses on the Jewish cuisine of Italy. Alongside all of this, I own a small coffee shop in my town called Café Lovi, which specializes in Italian espresso and Challah bread sandwiches!
I’m stepmother to wonderful Maya. When I’m not busy cooking or writing about food, I enjoy dancing tango and lifting weights. I have a big sweet tooth and I like to eat candies, chocolate, cookies… if it’s sweet, I’ll go for it!
Tell us about Labna.it
Manuel Kanah and I have been running our website, www.labna.it , since 2009. We specialize in Kosher and Jewish recipes, from Italy, the Middle East and beyond.
You can also join me on Instagram @labna, where I share bits of my food writing and photography.
What’s your passion project?
I have spent the last few years spreading the word about the marvels of Italian Jewish food in Italy and abroad, teaching the recipes of the cuisine to a growing number of people in cooking schools, synagogues, and community centers, among other institutions. That is really something I am passionate about because our culinary culture is a very small and special niche that I would like people to discover.
Tell us about your connection with Judaism. How it is expressed in your life in general, and in your kitchen?
I try to be as good of a Jew as I can be. I keep loosely kosher, I celebrate all the holidays of course, but more importantly, I try to hold on to our traditions, especially in the kitchen. The Jews of Italy have very different holiday foods than US/Ashkenazi Jews, so I make it a point to always prepare our traditional dishes for my American friends and family to enjoy. I try to buy wholesome, simple, organic when I think it makes sense.
What is the best thing you learned from another person about food and hospitality?
Working alongside the chef that I employ at Café Lovi, I have really grown to appreciate how much work goes on in the back of a restaurant. As a result, I’ve started to be a lot less picky when I order food. I used to ask for special things, like, I don’t know, “dressing on the side”. Now I think of the people in the kitchen having to deal with it and I tell myself, “I’ll have it the way the chef decided”.
What three food items could you not live without?
Coffee, chocolate, challah bread.
What is your best food tip? (Something accessible, simple and do-able).
I like to put a slice of apple in the oil when I fry: it helps to “test” the temperature of the oil and it takes away the smell, too, so, win-win!
What are your 2-3 go-to cookbooks?
Coming Home to Sicily by Fabrizia Lanza
This book shared recipes from the famous cooking school, Case Vecchie in Sicily. The author’s mother started the school in 1989. Fabrizia Lanza went back home to help her elderly mother run the cooking school, and this book was born out of her experiences. I love the combination of recipes and storytelling about the local food culture, how the school runs and the people who run it. In this book, Fabrizia Lanza shares 100 family recipes that students of the school learn to make.
The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden
This book needs no introduction! This from the publisher’s blurb gestures towards the size and significant of this book as a crucial resource for Jewish food:
“The 800 magnificent recipes, many never before documented, represent treasures garnered by Roden through nearly 15 years of traveling around the world.”
I love the Monday Morning Cooking Club books! They are a group of women from Sydney Australia’s Jewish community. Here’s what they say about their books:
“Our initial goal was to seek out the best recipes from the best cooks in Sydney’s Jewish Community, leading to our first book Monday Morning Cooking Club… The second book,The Feast Goes On shares recipes and stories from Australia’s vibrant Jewish community. Our third book ‘It’s Always About the Food‘ celebrates the wonderfully diverse global Jewish community. Our fourth book, Now for Something Sweet is a beautiful, curated selection of our favourite sweet recipes from around the world (with one savoury chapter for some salty relief).”
Tell us about your Herbed Pumpkin Spread Recipe Story
The italian name for this pumpkin spread is “Zucca sfranta”. Pumpkins and squash are specialties of Emilia-Romagna, where the locals harvest great quantities of them in the fall. So, it’s no wonder those seasonal ingredients feature in this Italian regional dish to celebrate the end of the Yom Kippur fast.
The spread can be both a side dish or a starter. I like it best with some crunchy bread or crackers to go with it.
A delicious variation! This dish can be savory or sweet. In Venice, the sweet version goes by the name of “succa desfada”. It includes candied citron and is wonderful for Rosh Hashanah.Print
One 3-pound (1.4 kg) sugar pumpkin or kabocha squash
3 tablespoons extra- virgin olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
A handful of basil leaves, torn into pieces
Leaves from 2 sprigs parsley, coarsely chopped
Scant 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Crunchy bread for serving
Cut the pumpkin or squash in half and scoop out and discard the seeds and fibers. Cut into thick slices and peel each slice with a vegetable peeler. Chop the slices into cubes.
Transfer the pumpkin pieces to a deep nonstick skillet, add 2 cups (480 ml) water, and set over medium heat. Add the olive oil, onion, basil, parsley, salt, and pepper to taste, cover, and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pumpkin is falling apart and can be mashed with a fork. Add a little additional water if necessary to finish the cooking.
Mash the pumpkin to a coarse but creamy spread and serve hot or at room temperature.
Excerpted from Cooking alla Giudia by Benedetta Jasmine Guetta (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2022. Photographs by Ray Kachatorian.
Keywords: pumpkin, italian recipe, dip, spread
More Community Recipes
Jewish Food Hero’s Community Recipes feature is a space for us all to share our favorites and hear from a variety of people in our community. This is an easy and fun way to get new meal ideas and learn about each other. Since you’ve read Benedetta’s recipe, do you feel inspired to share your Kosher recipe? Don’t forget to get in touch to share your recipe too!