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Parmesan Pasta Crackers with Creamy Zucca e Cavolfiore (pumpkin + cauliflower)

September 12, 2011 by Joan Nova in Appetizers, Bread, Pizza, Flatbreads, Italian, Recipe Development, Vegetables, Wine | 17 Comments

Hey, folks, it’s bargain day at FOODalogue. I created 4 recipes for this party dish, one for each layer. But each could stand alone and be used in a variety of ways. I encourage you to play around and have fun! I always do!

My original title for this post was “In the FOODalogue Test Kitchen”. Why? Well, it’s complicated…but  I’ll try to explain.

I was attending an Italian wine and food pairing (everyone brings a dish and a wine). I wanted a dish that would spotlight vegetables, like roasted cauliflower. Also, I’ve been on a pumpkin kick lately…so I thought I’d make a pizza and instead of a tomato sauce, I’d make a creamy pumpkin base and then I’d top it with roasted cauliflower.

Call this plan 1.

It was delicious, but…

Pizza goes to pasta (no photo)
Plan 2 came about because as the numbers of attendees increased, I felt the pizza would be too difficult to divide and, more importantly, to transport so I decided to use the same ingredients and flavor profiles but instead of pizza, I’d make pasta. Everyone was happy.


Enter Plan 3.
After I made those wonton crackers a few posts back, I started to think about using them as the pasta element and serving vessel for the pumpkin and cauliflower. Each ingredient would stand on its own whereas in a pasta, it would have been muddled.

Plan 3 really worked! It was easily transportable since I kept each component separate until I got to the party. Once there, it was easy to assemble. And everyone loved it!

Parmesan Pasta Crackers

(This is a simple one!)
Layer wonton skins on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
Bake in 400 degree oven.*
*watch carefully, it only takes a few minutes to brown.

Each of the following layers was seasoned with a mix of dry seasonings (coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper, sage*, chili flakes, oregano, ground fennel seed – and freshly ground nutmeg in the pumpkin).

Creamy Pumpkin

pumpkin, ricotta, parmesan, sauteed onions before blending

1/3 cup slow-sauteed onions with dry sage*.
1 cup pureed pumpkin (unsweetened).
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta
2 heaping tbs of parmesan cheese
dry seasonings + fresh grating of nutmeg
mix well with fork
(If you make it in advance and refrigerate, as I did, put it in the microwave for a minute to take chill off.)

My Extra Special Roasted Cauliflower

I highly recommend using this kind of bacon in your cooking if it is available in your supermarket. I’ve been using it for years…it’s 50% less fat and it’s packed with flavor.

(Check out all the ingredients on this one – you know it has to be delicious!)
1 large head cauliflower stemmed and cut into small florets
1/4 cup chopped sundried tomatoes
2 piquillo peppers minced (1/2 roasted red pepper)
several tablespoons pesto* to coat everything
2 tbs chopped calamata olives
2 tsps capers
handful raisins
handful chopped parsley
3 garlic cloves minced
crumbled (peppered) bacon
3/4 lb mozzarella diced small

Mix together and roast in oven at high temperature (400); add mozzarella about 5 minutes before serving (or when reheating to serve).

Toasted Bread Crumbs

Finish with sprinkle of whole wheat panko crumbs, parmesan, crushed almonds and dry seasonings which have been mixed and ‘fried’ with a drop or two of extra virgin olive oil in a hot skillet. Add a little orange zest for brightness.

Blogger Lament: I missed my usual reds + greens on the plate and found this a difficult dish to photograph (plus the wine I consumed didn’t help my technical skills).

Trust that it delivered in taste and presentation.

*The wine I chose to pair with this dish was G. Scopetani Chianti Ruffina, 2008. It was medium-body with less tannins than other Chianti Classicos.

Cooking Notes: I served 20 appetizers with this recipe and had leftover pumpkin sauce and crackers. Aside from the fact that I’m having a lot of fun with these wonton crackers, another plus is they have good staying power. Treat them as you would any cracker and they will remain crispy.

*sage: dried in oven and crumbled.
*pesto: You know the drill…basil, garlic, nuts, parm and evoo.

Our next event is Spanish wines and tapas. Ain’t we got fun?

NOTE: Some recipes found on FOODalogue are offered without ingredient quantities. They're meant as a guide to food pairings and techniques to be experimented with … in your own kitchen … to your own spice and taste levels … to your preferred portion sizes … and to however many people you’re cooking for. A perfect meal has multiple levels of flavor and textures, bright colors and tastes, and healthy(ish) choices. It's all about enjoyment. Enjoy the process, the presentation and the just rewards...eating!


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  1. Sharon says:

    yes, it was delish

  2. I love these types of dishes; veggies galore, and flavor galore. I have to try using wonton skins it seems so easy and handy! I am fixing something with pumpkin soon, I will remember these scrumptious crackers!!!!
    tasteofbeirut recently posted..Stuffed piquillosMy Profile

    • Joan says:

      The beauty of the wontons, aside from the simplicity, is that you can give them any flavor. I’m totally obsessed with them…for the time being. :)

  3. Liz says:

    What a yummy appetizer. Wow!

  4. brii says:

    joan!!!! this is fantastico!!
    must try this at once, love both zucca and cavolfiore…and adding those wanton parmesan crackers…wow!!
    I bet everybody loved it!!

  5. redkathy says:

    I have to tell you Joan, I’m lovin’ the pumpkin and ricotta combo, thanks for the inspiration **HUGS**
    redkathy recently posted..Game Day Cheesy Chorizo Bread RecipeMy Profile

  6. Katie says:

    I wonder if I could make the cracker part with empanada shells. No wonton skins here, but I love the concept. And I’m all about pumpkin/squash too!
    Katie recently posted..On a Late Winter’s AfternoonMy Profile

  7. I would call it “creative day” Joan. I especially love those parm crackers.
    My Carolina Kitchen recently posted..Salmon Smothered with Tomatoes and Basil  My Profile

  8. Robin Sue says:

    Such great layers of flavors here. I am on a cauliflower kick lately and can’t get enough of it. Will have to add that pumpkin component to it for more flavor and color! Looks like a very fun group. Our supper club stopped as everyone got too busy with kids’ schedules. Some day.
    Robin Sue recently posted..Moroccan Chicken Stew with Lemon "Couscous" PilafMy Profile

  9. norma says:

    I am loving all of it. I have a party on Saturday and already thinking…..
    norma recently posted..Pana – BreadfruitMy Profile

  10. Looks like you had enormous fun Joan. Love the idea of an Italian wine and food tasting event like this. Plotting…
    Sally – My Custard Pie recently posted..A little piece of cheese heaven – Tavistock Real Cheese FairMy Profile

  11. bellini says:

    All the flavours and textures meld so wll together Joan. Talk about your comfort foods that is easily transportable and fun too.

  12. I love the sound of these guys. They look scrumptious and all the ingredients are some of my fav things!
    Russell at Chasing Delicious recently posted..Short & Sweet: Pecan-Whipped Cream CakeMy Profile

  13. Denise says:

    I made this (or, at least, a slight variation) on Friday night, and just wanted to report back how well it worked. Lovely combinations.
    Denise recently posted..Downton Abbey is Classic British TVMy Profile

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  1. […] meal started from leftover (uncooked) cauliflower, pumpkin puree and breadcrumbs, all from the parmesan crackers with creamy pumpkin and roasted cauliflower. A little tomato sauce in a container and 1 (uncooked) zucchini leftover from the Spanish fish […]

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