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Pumpkin adds fall flavor to fontina dish

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Quentin Bacon
Roasted Pumpkin With Fontina Fonduta

Fonduta, as its name implies, is a fontina cheese dish originating from northern Italy, specifically the Piedmont and Val d’Aosta regions. It is typically served as part of an antipasto with cubes of toasted bread and a glass of wine. At my house, we drop the toasted bread, keep the glass of wine, and raise you warmed autumn vegetables with my Roasted Pumpkin With Fontina Fonduta.

When shopping for fontina, be sure to ask for an Italian variety, with its reddish-brown rind proving authenticity. The texture and flavor of this cheese depends on how long it has been aged; semi-soft versus firm and mild versus robust richness all depends on the aging process. Classically, fontina is aged for a full 90 days, until its interior is creamy pale and riddled with “eyes” or little holes. Fontina becomes nuttier with age, much like you and me.

Fontina is earthy, exuding wood and mushrooms, and pairs especially well with nebbiolo red wine. This burly red wine with hints of wild cherry and truffles is a perfect match for fonduta for my palate, but you should also try a Barolo from Piedmont. I’ve never met a Barolo I didn’t like.

If you have the opportunity to grate your own whole nutmeg, you should absolutely do so. The stuff that comes out of industrial spice cans does not transport you into fall the way freshly grated nutmeg does. It’s simply magical in this recipe, paired with Parmigiano-Reggiano, the undisputed king of cheeses.

Mario Batali is the award-winning chef behind 24 restaurants including Eataly, DelPosto, and his flagship Greenwich Village enoteca, Babbo.

Roasted Pumpkin With Fontina Fonduta

3 pounds pumpkin or Hubbard squash

14 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups whole milk

12 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

4 ounces fontina Val d’Aosta cheese, grated

4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided

Heat the oven to 425 degrees.

Peel the pumpkin and remove the seeds. Cut the pumpkin into 2-inch cubes and place them in a mixing bowl. Add the oil and rosemary, season with salt and pepper, and toss to mix well. Place the pumpkin pieces in a roasting pan, and roast in the oven until golden brown and tender, turning them occasionally, for about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat, and whisk in the flour until well blended. Slowly add the milk, whisking until the mixture thickens slightly. Then add the nutmeg, fontina and 2 tablespoons of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper, cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap, and keep it in a warm place until ready to serve.

Remove the roasting pan from the oven and allow the pumpkin to rest in the pan for 5 minutes.

To serve, spoon the fonduta onto a warmed platter, and then arrange the pumpkin pieces over it. Grind fresh pepper over the pumpkin, sprinkle it with the remaining 2 tablespoons Parmigiano, and serve.

Makes 8 to 10 servings as a side dish.

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