Thursday, January 3, 2013

Pasta con Zucca

Apologies for the lack of blog posts over the past month.  The internet has not been very reliable, but I think (maybe) it's fixed (for now)!

Happy New Year!  Buon Anno!

With the new year and a cold winter in some parts of the globe (we've had a wet one here in Tuscany), why not try a new recipe to help warm the bones?

We've had a lot of these rainy days lately!
(View from Ponte Vecchio)

This recipe is an adaptation of "Ziti alla Zucca" by Mario Batali.  I ran across it when Simone brought home a couple large slices of zucca from the supermarket one day.  I had NO clue how to fix it into something delicious.  Zucca is the Italian word for pumpkin or squash.  The only way I had ever had pumpkin before was in pie or roll form.  Both delicious, but I had no clue how to make either thing from the real thing.  Whenever I made a pumpkin pie in the US, I used the canned stuff.

So I searched the interwebs for a zucca recipe.  Thank you Mario.  You saved me.

I made a few tweaks to it to fit my purposes.  This is my version.  My Tuscan heartily much so that he brought home more zucca a week later!

You're going to need some olive oil, an onion, garlic, pumpkin, salt, parsley, pasta, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

First things first.  Cut up the zucca/pumpkin into little julienne strips.

Then chop up  your onion and your garlic clove.

Throw all three into a big pan with some olive oil and cook it for one minute over high heat.

Add a cup of water, season it with some salt (you can use some pepper too, if you'd like, but I don't), lower the heat and cover it.  Let it cook for about 8 or 10 minutes until the zucca is soft.  Then add the parsley.  And by the way, when I say parsley, I mean the flat-leaved, Italian kind.  Always!

Meanwhile, cook your pasta until it's al dente.  What kind of pasta, you ask?  Well, that's up to you.  I used pipe rigate shaped pasta because that's what I had in the cupboard.  Anything that will capture the sauce like rotini or penne...those would work.

Save about a half cup or so of the pasta water and drain the rest.  Add the pasta water and pasta to the zucca sauce and cook it for about a minute or two (until the water is absorbed) over high heat.

Serve it up topped with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano!  This is some good stuff!  You won't look at a pumpkin in the same way!

Pasta con Zucca (serves 4)

2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped fine
1 clove garlic, chopped fine
1 pound (approximately 0,5 kg) zucca (pumpkin), cut into julienne strips
1 cup water
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
200 grams dried pasta
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated

In a large pan, heat the oil over high heat and add onion, garlic and zucca and cook for 1 minute.  Add the water and salt to taste.  Lower the heat to medium and cover.  Let cook, stirring occasionally, until the pumpkin is soft, approximately 8-10 minutes.  Add chopped parsley and heep warm.

Cook the pasta until al dente.  Drain, reserving approximately 1/2 - 3/4 cup of pasta water.  Add pasta water and pasta to cooked sauce and toss over high heat for approximately 1-2 minutes over high heat, until the water is absorbed.

Serve topped with plenty of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

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