This is our second day today of coronavirus lockdown but it’s easy to fill the days – and many easy ways to ward off a CPA (Coronavirus Panic Attack). Here in Italy, cooking takes up some of the time….and is a pleasurable distraction for all.
These days, where possible, work has been transferred home, although this isn’t possible for all employed adults, logicamente.
I can imagine homes all over Italy where Nonna is rolling out fettuccine or filling tortellini or – here in Umbria – making that torta flat bread with the grandchildren (who won’t return to school at least until April 3rd). Many young ones will be learning, too, how to make a savory sugo for pasta during this coronavirus lockdown.
I wonder if the Neapolitan grandmothers might be showing their young charges how to make pasta e coccozza (Neapolitan dialect for pasta e zucca,” i.e., “pasta with squash”). This is a creamy, savory pasta dish made like a risotto: the pasta is cooked right in the simmering squash. Ever made pasta cooked right it in its own sauce?
Ready to try?
Here’s all you need for this savory dish for about four persons: a sizable chunk of winter squash, a couple garlic cloves, olive oil, a small bunch of parsley, chili pepper (optional), parmigiana and penne pasta:
Cut about a pound of winter squash into chunks:
Finely dice a small bunch of parsley, using even the stems, so full of flavor. I usually dice the parsley first into small pieces – and then pulverize it even more with our cradle knife (called in Italian, “mezzaluna” – “half moon”):
Finely dice two garlic cloves:
Cover the bottom of a large pan with extra virgin (only!) olive oil, remembering that this pan will hold all the squash as well as the pasta:
Add the diced garlic to the olive oil – and a bit of peperoncino, if you wish (highly recommended as the chili pepper adds a nice zip to the mild squash):
Simmer briefly until the garlic is just golden (do not burn!)…..
….and then add the squash….
….and most of the parsley:
Let the squash simmer with the diced garlic and peperoncino for a couple minutes, stirring now and then with a wooden spoon.
Add about a cup of boiling water and bring the squash to boiling point, then cover the pan, lowering the heat.
Let the squash simmer (covered) for about 20 minutes, stirring now and then and adding a tablespoon or two of boiling water as needed.
When the squash softens, add about 1-1/2 cups of boiling water ….
……and bring the squash mixture to a boil, then adding the pasta:
(Some like to weigh their pasta but I generally don’t bother: I just use two handfuls of penne pasta per person.)
Cook the pasta at medium heat, stirring frequently and adding a tablespoon or two of boiling water as needed.
When the pasta is almost al dente, add salt, q. b. (“quanto basta” – “as much as you need”) and the remaining diced parsley
When the pasta is cooked, you’ll have a buonissimo creamy primo (“first course”):
Do serve it hot….
and you’ll want to add parmigiano before dishing up the goodness:
Gustavo (from Brazil) joined us for lunch today – and was enthusiastic about this dish:
To my surprise, Pino, too! He’s not fond of squash – but he had a second portion of today’s pasta:
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