I love hosting Thanksgiving. But every year, even though I plan ahead and try to be on time, I end up running at least an hour late. Luckily, this delicious pumpkin prosciutto flatbread makes it all ok, because it temporarily satisfies all of my impatient guests, without filling them up. I’ve been making it for years as a Thanksgiving appetizer and it has become one of my favorite fall dishes.
It started with just some roasted pumpkin on toast, then I mashed it and served it as a flatbread with some sage and gruyere, then I tried it with some prosciutto and that was amazing, and then came the ricotta and toasted fresh pumpkin seeds. Add the classic fall spices (cinnamon and nutmeg), and you just feel like you’re tasting fall with every bite.
This flatbread is so delicious, it disappears within 5 minutes after I bring it out! But it buys me the time I need to get Thanksgiving on the table.
Or you can also just make this as a main course and call it a pizza. But whatever you do…don’t skip the freshly roasted pumpkin seeds! It takes a little bit of work to separate them from the flesh, but it is so worth it. They just don’t taste the same when you buy them from the store.
Pumpkins are awesome!
I love pumpkins. They are the ultimate sign that fall has arrived, that cooler days are around the corner and that it’s time to do some serious baking. I thought it would be fun to list some interesting facts about this versatile, brightly orange plant that is part of the squash family:
- Pumpkins are indigenous to the western hemisphere and have been grown in North America for five thousand years
- They are in the same family as cucumbers, zucchini, watermelons and cantaloups – all known as Gourds.
- The term pumpkin evolved from “pompions”, which roughly means “gross or ugly melons”. Jacques Cartier, a French explorer, first saw these “ugly melons” when he explored the St Lawrence region of North America, and so the name evolved.
- The heaviest pumpkin ever recorded weighed 1810 pounds 8 ounces and was displayed in 2010 at the Stillwater Harvest festival in Minnesota.
- And the largest pumpkin pie ever baked was in 2005 and weighed 2,020 pounds – I wonder how many people it took to eat it!
- You can grow your own pumpkin if you plant one of the seeds!
- Pumpkins are very healthy…they’re low in calories, high in fiber and filled with good nutrients like iron, potassium and vitamins A and B
- 3/4 cup lukewarm water (about 105 degrees)
- 2cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 1.5 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 medium sugar pumpkin
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- 3/4 cup coarsely grated Gruyere cheese
- 3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, broken up into strips
- 6 to 8 sage leaves
- 1 large red onion
- 2 medium garlic cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1.5 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- pinch cayenne pepper
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
1) Preheat oven to 325. Cut the stem off the sugar pumpkin, then slice pumpkin into quarters. Scoop out the flesh into a bowl (set flesh and seeds aside) and brush the pumpkin pieces with olive oil. Sprinkle each piece with salt (about 1/2 tsp) and freshly ground black pepper (about 1/4 tsp). Prick the pieces with a fork a few times and roast in the oven until pumpkin is very tender, approximately 2 hours. This can take quite a while, I find that loosely covering the pumpkin with some foil can expedite the cooking.
2) Separate the pumpkin seeds from the scooped out flesh as best as you can. I find it easiest to place everything into a colander, run it under water, while manually removing the fleshy parts and plucking as many seeds as possible out. It is a tedious task, but the fresh roasted seeds are a must on the flatbread! Pat the seeds dry with a paper towel, removing as much water as possible, then mix in 1 tbs olive oil, 1 tbs melted butter, 1/4 tsp salt, some fresh pepper and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Spread the seeds in one layer on a baking sheet and roast on a lower layer in the oven along with the pumpkin, until seeds are golden. This takes about 40 to 50 minutes. Remove seeds and set aside (and go ahead... munch on this incredibly delicious and healthy snack!).
3) While pumpkin cooks, make the dough: In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the 1.5 tsp salt. In a separate bowl, combine the 105 degree water with the yeast and 1/2 tsp sugar. Whisk the liquids and then add the dry ingredients. Switch to a spoon and mix everything together until a dough starts to form. Turn out onto a clean surface and knead for 6 or 7 minutes with your hands until dough becomes elastic. Coat with some olive oil, place in a bowl and let the dough rise for 1 and a half or 2 hours, while the pumpkin cooks.
4) Place a skillet over a medium flame and add 2 tbs olive oil. Thinly slice the red onion and add to the pan, along with the grated garlic, 4 large chopped sage leaves, the 1/2 tsp sugar and a little salt and pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes, until onion is soft and slightly caramelized. Set aside.
5) In a medium bowl, mix 1 tbs olive oil, the 1.5 tbs of honey, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp nutmeg and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Whisk all ingredients to combine. When pumpkin is tender enough, remove from oven, let it rest until cool enough to handle and scoop out the flesh into the bowl with oil, honey and spice. Mash very well with a spoon, or use an immersion blender to get a thick puree and mix in the seasonings. It should still be somewhat chunky. Taste the puree and add more salt and pepper if necessary.
6) Raise the oven heat to 500 degrees and place an a baking sheet into the oven to warm it. Cut the dough in half, place one piece back into bowl and cover. Place the other piece on a large sheet of parchment paper big enough to hold the flatbread. Use a rolling in to roll it out into a thin layer. It can be round, square, or any shape you like...because it's a flatbread! You can even pick it up and use your hands to gently stretch it. But it should be about 14 inches wide and long.
7) Layer the ingredients over the rolled out dough: spread half of the pumpkin first, leaving at least a half an inch border. Then spread half of the onion mixture, followed by half of the grated Gruyere cheese. Top with half of the prosciutto strips and drop half of the ricotta in dollops. Sprinkle the flatbread with some kosher salt, fresh black pepper, drizzle a bit of good quality olive oil over it and sprinkle about a half tsp of fresh chopped sage.
8) With gloves, carefully remove the hot baking sheet (be careful...it's hot!), turn it upside down and lift the parchment paper with the flatbread unto it. Place back into the oven and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the baking sheet and with the help of a spatula, slide the flatbread off of the paper. Return to oven, rotating it, and cook another 4 to 5 minutes.
Repeat everything with the other piece of dough, or...chill dough ( will keep for 3 days) and all ingredients separately and put the other flatbread together the next day for a post Thanksgiving brunch.
9) Sprinkle the delicious toasted pumpkin seeds over the flatbread and slice into even squares.
And get ready to give out the recipe, because everyone will be asking for it!
* can substitute Kabocha squash for the pumpkin
* store bought dough can be used to speed up recipe, but won't be as good!
* cooking time hands on is not 3.5 hours, it's much less.