Pasta with pumpkin (or pasta con cocozza – as we say in Naples) is a delicious and super healthy pasta recipe. a cornerstone of the neapolitan cucina povera, it requires only a handful of ingredients, but packs a lot of taste!
About this Recipe
By: Silvana Lanzetta
Pasta with pumpkin is a simple and delicious vegetarian (or vegan if you skip the grated Parmesan) dish commonly found all over Italy. It’s especially widespread in Naples (where this recipe comes from) and Southern Italy.
- 500 gr of pumpkin
- 300 grams of pasta
- 4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 teaspoon of flaked chili (optional)
- 200 ml of water
- 1 liter of vegetable stock, as needed
- 3 Tablespoons of chopped parsley
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Grated parmesan cheese, to serve (optional)
A classic dish of the “cucina povera”, the origins of which are dated back of the XVI century, after Christophorus Columbus discovered the Americas and started to bring new fruits and vegetables in Europe. The pumpkin was one of those new discovered exotic foods.
In Naples, we use a type of pumpkin that we call cocozza, which is a big long fruit with green skin and bright orange flesh: it sort of looks like a giant courgette.
However, it is very hard to find it elsewhere in the world, so often I use instead butternut squash which is very easily found in the UK, where I live now.
There are many variations of this recipe, according to personal taste and different family traditions. For instance, my father’s side of the family would add tomato passata to the recipe, and would make the dish more watery and soup like; whereas my mother’s side of the family would make the version that I propose you today, which is also the classic one.
Pasta with pumpkin is an healthy and tasty recipe that can be enjoyed many times over!
- Proteins 14% 14%
- Carbs 68% 68%
- Fats 18% 18%
Step by Step Instructions
Clean the pumpkin. Slice it open and use a spoon to scrape off all the seeds. With a large knife, remove the skin. Be careful, as the skin is very hard—you’ll have a much easier time by tackling a thin slice at the time. Once pumpkin is clean, dice into small cubes about 1 cm in size.
In a very large thick-bottomed casserole, add extra-virgin olive oil, crushed garlic and, if using, chili pepper. Turn heat on very low and cook for a few minutes, taking care that the garlic doesn’t burn. (Tip: To add more flavour, add the parsley stems (without the leaves) tied up in a bunch with food-grade string, and remove before adding the pumpkin! Lots of flavour guaranteed.)
Add diced pumpkin and saute for a few minutes, stirring so the oil coats everything evenly. Add the water, allow water to boil, then cover pan and lower the heat. Leave to simmer for 10–15 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure the pumpkin is not sticking to the bottom, and that there’s enough water.
Boil vegetable stock (or substitute water, if preferred) and add 300 ml to the pot. Season with salt and pepper if necessary. Stir in pasta and, if necessary, add more water or stock. Cook for 6–7 minutes, then taste to make sure that pasta is cooked al dente and seasoning is to your taste. If pasta is still too hard, cook for a couple more minutes. Don’t be tempted to add too much liquid, just add if liquid is completely absorbed and pasta is not cooked yet. The dish is ready when pasta is cooked al dente and covered uniformly with the creamy pumpkin sauce, and there’s no water left.
Remove from heat. Leave to sit for a few minutes. Stir in chopped parsley and serve with grated Parmesan.
Best pasta shapes to use for this recipes are: farfalle (pasta bows), tubetti, chifferi (elbow pasta), spaghetti or bucatini snapped in segments of ca. 4 cm, casarecce, or a mix of the above (pasta mista)!
To make this recipe more scrumptious, fry some pancetta or guanciale with a few sage leaves and scatter it on your pasta before serving. If using sage, do not use parsley.
Store any leftover in a airtight container and consume within 3 days.