Jan 22, 2011

Pasta e Zucca

Pasta e Zucca is one of the staples of the Neapolitan winter table, one of those dishes people eagerly await to come into season, and you’ll see how it can grow on you, especially when made with sweet squash or flavorful pumpkins. It is after all–aside from comforting and delicious–also a healthy, easy and very quickly prepared dish. This is the kind of pumkin found around here, but pie pumpkin works just as well.



Ingredients for 4
500 gr (1.1 lb) spaghetti, broken into 2-inch bits*
4 kg (4.4 lbs) acorn squash, butternut or pumpkin
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, smashed
Pinch of rosemary needles
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Parmigiano, grated
Salt
Stand-by boiling hot water

*other soup pastas work well for this dish, 
like for example pasta mista, tubetti, ditali, 
ditalini, farfalline etc.
 



The easiest way to peel and dice the squash, is to cut it crosswise into 3/4” slices. Peel the slices and discard the seeds and fibrous interior. Now cut into 3/4-inch cubes. If using pumpkin, cut it into wedges, discard the seeds, then peel the wedges and cube the pulp.

In a heavy bottomed 3-quart saucepan, sauté the garlic and red pepper in olive oil until cloves are soft and barely coloring on both sides. Use a wooden spoon to press them into the oil a few times to release their flavor. Discard the garlic, its chore is done.

Add the cubed squash or pumpkin and sprinkle with a little salt and the rosemary needles. Raise the heat to medium-high and sauté until squash is fork soft, about 15 minutes. If using pumpkin, it will take about 25 minutes.

Add 5-6 cups of hot water and adjust seasoning. Cover the pot, and bring to a rolling boil.

Stir in the broken pasta, re-cover the pot and when it returns to a boil, uncover and cook the pasta in the soup until al dente. While the pasta cooks, stir frequently and mash some of the pumpkin cubes with the back of a wooden spoon to thicken the dish.

Taste for salt and correct if necessary. Tweak the consistency, if desired, by adding more water. It can be soupy, thick or almost dry, depending on your taste.

Stir in more pepper flakes if necessary, and serve hot. Pass the Parmigiano and watch the smiles surface.

the finished dish

fun serving solution

27 comments:

  1. If I were at home today I would be cooking this dish-it sounds wonderful. And warming.
    I'm surprised about the rosemary-my mother never used rosemary. Is it in the Neopolitian spice rack?
    xo

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  2. Rosemary grows everywhere, in Italy even on the side of country roads! I like the pumpkin/rosemary flavor combination, so it may not be part of the original recipe but I like to add it.

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  3. Whatever grows in the same vicinity makes a great companion herb/veggie addition.

    Yummmm!

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  4. My husband, Napolitano that he is, taught me to make this,only we use parsely rather than rosemary.

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  5. I wish I liked squash more because this looks wonderful. Comfort food.

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  6. Rosaria~
    Indeed! Happy you like this, I looove it!!

    ~~~

    Rosa~
    True, parsley is the official Pasta e Zucca herb, but I have to confess... I don't like parsley. In some restaurants I even go as far as pretend I'm allergic to be sure they don't sprinkle it decoratively on my plate! But the real Napoli recipe calls for prezzemolo, you're right!

    ~~~

    LoriE~
    How about pie pumpkin? It's delish... Hugs

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  7. lola,

    I wasn't sure about this as I'm not a big fan of pumpkin, but then i saw the recipe involved rosemary and red pepper and i thought: bingo -- that sounds like a marriage made in food heaven.

    brava, dear lola, on always bringing something new to the table♡

    love,

    amanda

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  8. Amanda~
    It is, and the textures are nice too: velvety and nourishing. We're having very cold, bleak winter weather, but I'm fine as long as I have baby, warm blanket and soup nearby.
    Love you,
    E xx

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  9. Looks truely scrumptious, Lola.
    Sorry I have not visited recently - I haven't had a decent Italian meal for ages!! I've been busy in the big bad world but have managed to pop back to BlogLand for a while.
    Missed yer lots ~ Hugs ~ Eddie

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  10. What a great combination of flavors! I am sure it taste heavenly!

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  11. Ciao!! One of the regions of my Italian ancestry is from Naples.:):) What a great dish.

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  12. What a lovely rich color!.....smiles.

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  13. Ciao Eleonora, this looks like a fantastic winter recipe. We're going to try it at the earliest opportunity. By the way, even though we have snow on the ground, the creeping rosemary is doing fine.

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  14. I'll bet this can make some folks smile ! I was smiling just reading about it !!!

    And now I'm copying the link to your post here into an e-mail going straight to la Grenouille, who with a little luck will be able to reproduce this faithfully. And then we'll all be smiling in this house in France...

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  15. Wow! Great combination of pasta with soup! Well done!

    In these days I'm doing soups too. Next one will be minestrone soup pasta :)

    See you soon!

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  16. El ~ Your pumpkin soup recipe is the answer to what to do with the squash for dinner tonight!
    I bought a variety of squashes from a local grower last week and have been preparing them in many ways. This one sounds very yummy. May I add a little whole cream at the end?

    Speaking of cream - I enjoyed the raw milk story as well. This wouldn't work in the U.S. though. Too many regulations (and monopolies).

    And the Roman markets list made me wish to be beamed in back to Roma subito, just to shop until I drop from pure delight amongst the food stalls.
    Your angle on biologique and local has me transfixed!

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  17. Eddie~
    Hugs to you too, my friend. If you're craving your Italian food fix, you know you can always pop over here!

    ~~~

    Quay Po Cooks~
    It does indeed! Try it, and let me know.

    ~~~

    Alessandra~
    I'm glad you like it! I have those same roots.

    ~~~

    Emom~
    A feast for both eyes and palate... ;)

    ~~~

    Andrea~
    Rosemary is a strong creature, and so reliable. I'm happy you like the dish, let me know how it turns out when you make it, va bene?

    ~~~

    Owen~
    This makes me smile too, knowing that a bowl of soup can make friends happy on the other side of the Alps. Bon appetit!

    ~~~

    Linguina~
    Che bello! I love cooking pasta in soup, like pasta e fagioli, pasta e ceci and minestrone. Espeically if the pasta is good quality ;) wink...

    ~~~

    Deborah~
    If you want to add cream to the soup, I suggest you puree the squash first. Something about chunks and cream doesn't sound right. Oh and I would omit the spicy element too.

    Hugs and... happy cooking a tutti!

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  18. great recipe...I love the serving suggestion

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  19. That's interesting. It looks somewhat more compact and squat than the pumpkins I find in a market here.

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  20. PS... guess what we had for dinner tonight ??? Yup, pasta e zucca, and it was wonderful... everyone loved it ! We were lucky, just happened to have all the ingredients in the house already... Thanks a million for the great dinner !

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  21. Jim~
    I don't know the name of the variety of this European pumpkin. The pulp is very juicy and thick, and it's VERY hard to carve into a jack o'lantern... ;)

    ~~~

    Owen~
    This is the kind of immediate response I like to get on my blogged recipes! I'm happy it was a success. Smiles in abundance

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  22. Wonderful seasonal fare, thanks. We have some pumpkins left so must try this.

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  23. oh with acorn squash! i need a separate notebook just for your recipes.

    i made fresh ravolis over the holidays. my favorite, passed down from my red headed italian Father.

    with love! have fun! ♥
    kj

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  24. You know, my grandmother was Neapolitan (well, from a small town called Apice near Benevento, but anywho...) But I can't remember her making this dish, but it is very much like the kind of thing she would make. My favorite was pasta e lenticchie. I happen to have some winter squash on hand at the moment--never decided what to do with it, but know I know! Thanks for this lovely idea!

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  25. Frank~
    If you want to stay with the original Neapolitan (strictly from Naples centro, that's perhaps why your Beneventana grandmother didn't make it often) know that it calls for parsley instead of rosemary.
    Let me know how it turns out, OK?

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  26. Yum. That's right up my alley. I've never seen anything like it, and now I want it RIGHT NOW. :-)

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  27. Serene-
    fortunately this is squah season, so you can make it now! Thanks for your comments, both here and on my jornal post. Ciao

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