Squash and sweet potatoes are cornerstones of longevity diets in all blue zones areas, so I was pleasantly surprised to see pumpkins growing in the highlands of Sardinia. And the very first recipe we discovered there was this tasty confection called thippulas: soft and smooth on the inside and sweet and crisp on the outside.
With its delicate flavor, saffron—more readily available and afford- able in Sardinia than in the United States—is a wonderful addition to this dish. If your budget affords it, then we recommend including it in your fritters, but this recipe is perfectly delicious without it as well. Besides being a prized culinary spice around the world, saffron, recent research shows, is made up of chemical compounds that support respiratory, digestive, and heart health.
One 15-ounce can pumpkin puree*
Pinch of salt
1 cup flour (more if needed)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup water
1⁄2 teaspoon saffron (optional)
Zest from 1⁄2 lemon
1⁄2 cup applesauce
Olive or vegetable oil, for frying
1⁄4 cup confectioners’ sugar
In a medium bowl mix together all ingredients, except oil and sugar, to make the dough.
In a large skillet, heat 1 inch of oil to 350 degrees.
If you don’t have a candy thermometer, dip the handle of a wooden spoon into the oil.
If the oil bubbles around the handle, it’s ready for frying.
Spoon tablespoons of dough into hot oil to make fritters, making sure to leave space between them, and cook them in batches.
Fry both sides for 2-3 minutes or until golden, and then transfer to a paper towel–lined plate.
Roll lightly in sugar and serve warm.
*The flesh of a Sardinian pumpkin differs from the jack-o-lantern pumpkins in America, which are too fibrous and watery. That’s why we’ve subbed in canned pumpkin puree. But you can also substitute pureed acorn or butternut squash.
The Blue Zones Kitchen fuses scientific reporting, National Geographic photography and 100 recipes that may help you live to 100. The Blue Zones’ food tradition is going the way of the dodo bird, thanks to the encroachment of the American Food Culture.Learn More