A meeting point between Italian gastronomy and Japanese ingredients: focaccia with kabocha dough (Japanese pumpkin).
During high school, focaccia has always been my favorite snack between classes.
Forget healthy Onigiri with seaweed and pickle, and try to imagine a huge oily and salty square of glutinous carbohydrate devoured in less than 5 minutes.
Too much for a snack? Definitely! But how could I resist!
In Italy, bakeries open their doors around 7 a.m. and in the streets you can start feeling the smell of freshly baked bread and croissant as soon as you cross the doorstep.
Not to mention the shop in front of my school, famous for its giant portions at a very reasonable price, for just 1 Euro I was able to get a thick piece of focaccia, or a big croissant filled with delicious Nutella. The best morning routine ever, and I was not the only one. Every day I would stand in line in front of the shop together with another 30 students, ready to satisfy our greediness.
So, it’s not hard for you to imagine which is one of the Italian dishes I love to cook the most, especially on a cozy weekend afternoon.
This time, since I am a big fan of Japanese Kabocha, I decided to give it a try adding its puree to the dough and reducing the amount of flour slightly. The result was a slightly crunchy Focaccia with a sweet aftertaste and a bright orange color!
To give more texture and flavor, I added other ingredients on the top such as sea salt, rosemary, oregano, poppy seeds, pumpkin seeds, and caramelized onion.
We loved it! Definitely, a dish that I will cook again soon!
(I will not put quantities as it depends on your taste and they are all optional, be free to use what you love the most!)
First of all, we need to make our Kabocha soft, in order to be able to first cut and then smash it! There are different ways to do so. Some are faster and easy, but the result is not always 100% perfect; others take longer time (and require oven) but in the end they work really well! I will show you both!
Microwave: what you have to do is simply take your half of the kabocha, take of the seeds and poke some holes in the skin with a fork. Place in a heat-resistant dish with 1 tablespoon of water, cover with plastic wrap or a lid and microwave for 5-7 minutes! Check with a fork if the skin is soft or not!
Oven: I am an Oven lover so this is the method I usually use! Preheat oven to 240ºC. Brush with oil, season with salt and pepper and place on your baking pan. Bake 45-60 minutes, or until you can easily pierce the skin with a fork.
Whatever methods you’ve decided to use, you’ll find yourself with a soft kabocha ready to be processed.
After the time has passed, take out your Focaccia from the oven and add the leftover topping. Let it cool down and enjoy as an aperitif, a side dishes or a good snack!
Give it a try, I am sure you will love it!
Caramelized Onion*: they are super easy to make! You just need to cut them in thin slices (Julienne cut) and slowly cooking them in a little olive oil until they reach a brown color! Onions are naturally sweet, but if you want you can put just a pinch of sugar to give extra flavor! (you can use red or white onion as you like).
Kabocha seeds*: Among the toppings, I added some pumpkin seeds from KokoroCare’s January packages.
These seeds come from Hokkaido and in particular from the town of Wassamu famous for the production of a particular variety of pumpkin called “Pepo”, whose seeds are naturally hull-less.
If you want to know more I suggest you to have a look at KokoroCarePackages website.