Chef Ben Pollinger, Oceana
120 W. 49th St., 212-759-5941
His pick: Pumpkin
Why he’s cooking with it: “There are so many types of pumpkin and squash, each with a different flavor, texture and color. They can be showcased as an individual variety or as a blend for an overall great pumpkin flavor. They’re visually stunning too, from orange to brown to red, green and blue.”
His inspiration: “I wanted to show off ways to serve pumpkin and celebrate this wonderful harbinger of autumn.”
Use it at home: To make a puree (to be used in pies or stirred into pasta or risotto):
1. Cut pumpkin in half from top to bottom.
2. Season the inside with salt and pepper.
3. Roast at 350, cut-side down on a rimmed baking tray, with just a little bit of water in the tray to create some steam.
4. Roast until a paring knife easily goes right through the flesh (time will vary depending on the density and the size).
5. Let it cool, scoop the flesh off the skin and puree in a food processor.
Bill Telepan, Telepan
72 W. 69th St., 212-580-4300
His pick: Cauliflower
Why he’s cooking with it: “Cauliflower is a fall favorite in our house and in the restaurant. During the fall, purple, orange and Romanesco cauliflower show up at the green market and are so versatile; they are great with bacon, sauteed with garlic, cut into steaks or pureed.”
How he’s cooking with it: “At the restaurant, we’ve been offering a cauliflower soup for the month of October, and are getting ready to transition to a Telepan classic: roasted cauliflower. It’s a dish with roasted cauliflower, pureed cauliflower, shell beans and fall greens with a hearty fall herb oil.”
Chef Billy Oliva, Delmonico’s
56 Beaver St., 212-509-1144
Delmonico’s Kitchen: 207 W. 36th St., 212-695-5220
His pick: Tuscan kale
Why he’s cooking with it: “I like cooking with Tuscan kale because it’s a very versatile, healthy green that can be used raw in salads or blanched and sauteed and used in pasta, soups, etc. I always gravitate toward ingredients that I can creatively use in different dishes.”
How he’s cooking with it: “In Delmonico’s, we are using Tuscan kale as a sauteed side dish served alongside a veal chop with spaetzle and pancetta. In Delmonico’s Kitchen, which is opening on Nov. 7, we will be serving a Tuscan Kale Caesar salad as well as a bean stew.”
How you can cook with it: “Tuscan kale is very easy to use at home. You can simply dress it with a Caesar dressing and fresh Parmesan cheese or saute it with garlic, lemon and sea salt for a side dish that will pair well with both meat and fish.”
Melissa Muller Daka, EOLO: Sicilia a Tavola
190 Seventh Ave.,
Her pick: Cucuzza
Cucu-what? “Cucuzza, pronounced ku-guu-zza, is a type of calabash [bottle gourd] that is popular in Southern Italy, especially in Sicily.”
On her menu: Pasta with squash vines, garlic and tomato
How you can cook with it: “[Cucuzza] has a mild flavor and retains a firm texture when cooked. Like zucchini, cucuzza can be sauteed, fried, baked, stuffed and added to soups. In certain parts of Sicily, cucuzza is also candied and used in some of the island’s most opulent desserts. [Try] poached eggs in stewed cucuzza, tomato, onion, garlic and mint.”
Maria Loi, Loi
208 W. 70th St.,
Her pick: Krokos Kozanis (Greek saffron)
On her menu: Risotto with Krokos Kozanis
Why she’s using it: “Krokos Kozanis is known to have healing qualities and has been used as a remedy since ancient times in Greece. Our focus at Loi is producing delicious food that comes from pure ingredients, which contributes to the long-term well-being of our customers. Krokos Kozanis has been documented as an ingredient that can reinvigorate and strengthen the immune system. There are even appearances of Krokos Kozanis in Greek mythology.”