Lola and Finn's Mum

Lola and Finn's Mum

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

It might be winter, but this reminds me of the sunshine! Fusilli con la Zucca, or Pumpkin (Squash) Pasta

I did have a plan that I would be less spontaneous when it came to shopping for food and that once I had got in the staples that I need in the weekly shop, then I would consult a cookery book, pick a recipe I would like to try, get the ingredients, and then create the dish, yadda, yadda, yadda, and then I realised whilst it might be financially savvy and reduces waste (two good things) it was also bringing out a side in me that was rather predictable and staid (very bad).
So, acknowledging that a little spontaneity is a good thing and that it is okay to veer 'off the list' occasionally, I spied 69p squashes at the greengrocers in Crosby village that I was not going to pass up. I never buy squash these days, since I realised that my Lola and Finn hate roasted vegetables and they are not too fond of squash soup. What I was going to do with them, I wasn't sure, but at 69p, I was buying them. They would be the staple for something. And frankly, what a good spot it was, because I would never have cooked this gorgeous dish if I hadn't have bought them.
So, after dumping the squash in the fridge for a couple of days and forgetting about it, I unearthed it once more looking for something else. Off to cookbook corner (more like a whole wall these days) to consult better chefs than I. After a rummage, I surfaced with 'Twelve' by Tessa Kiros (a glorious tome of Tuscan recipes) and a recipe for penne with pumpkin. I had all the ingredients, save for the pumpkin and the penne, but you know, a squash is near enough, I figured and as for the penne, well, we're fusilli people here. It was all going to be fine.
I did adapt a few little things here and there from the recipe. In particular, I cut my squash into quite small dice mostly, with a few slightly larger ones. Whilst I would like to say this was intentional, it was merely due to the fact that my knife skills are cack. What it did result in however was some of the smaller dice disintegrating pleasingly into the tomatoey sauce and the bigger dice retaining their shape and therefore giving texture. I also only put a cup of water in rather than the three recommended because I knew the cooking time for the squash would be less and I hoped that the sauce would reduce into something reasonably intense. Which it did.
So, why am I banging on about sunshine in the title of my blog post? Well, it struck me whilst chopping up squash how beautifully vibrant a squash is. In a season which is more likely to be associated with the more insipid, lifeless colours as nature almost lies dormant, the squash just glows and resonates warmth. Though a winter vegetable, its sunny colour makes me think of those golden days of summer. Why didn't my ancestors stay in the Med? I was made to be where the sun shines!!
Lola liked this. Finn, well, ate some. He is a very tough customer but don't let his lukewarm reaction put you off. Please make this. It's pretty economical, light but substantial (if that is possible) and tastes really wonderful. And, I still have half a squash left...
Fusilli con la Zucca, or Pumpkin spiral pasta, adapted from Penne con la Zucca, from 'Twelve' by Tessa Kiros.
My adaptations in red.
Serves Lola, Finn, Mum and Dad plus 2.
3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped finely (actually, I used some shallots, about 4)
1 Italian sausage, about 80 g (3 oz), skin removed and crumbled or 80 g (3 oz) of unsmoked pancetta, chopped finely.(I used ready diced unsmoked pancetta and a couple of bits of streaky bacon cut up with kitchen scissors to make up the shortfall)
300 g (10.5 oz) skinned, cleaned pumpkin, peeled and sliced finely (as already mentioned several times I used a butternut squash)
400 g (14 oz) tin  tomatoes with juice
1/2 small dried red chilli (I used half a deseeded red chilli which gave a latent 'nudge')500 g (1 lb 2 oz) penne or other short pasta (Fusilli!)about 120 g (
1 1/4 cups) grated Parmesan cheese, to serve
A little parsley, for sprinkling and garnish


Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and sauté the onion until it has softened. add the sausage or pancetta and sauté until it has browned lightly.

Cut the pumpkin slices into small pieces of about 2 cm (3/4 in) (I cut mine half the size of this, see preamble above) and add them to the pan.
Add the tomato and chilli, and season with salt and pepper.
Add about 750 ml (3 cups) (I used one cup of water) and simmer for 30-40 minutes. (I simmered for about 20 minutes before inserting the tip of a knife into the bigger dice) The pumpkin should melt into the sauce a little and there should be enough liquid to coast the pasta. Add a little more water, if necessary, to prevent the sauce from sticking.
When the sauce is of a desired consistency and the squash has cooked through. Check again for seasoning.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Cook the penne according to the packet instructions. Drain and mix into the sauce, tossing quickly to coat evenly, and serve. Or, serve the pasta with the sauce on top with some Parmesan cheese and a sprinkling of parsley.


  1. Still squash left and all that for 69p? Great deal! Love squash in this house and love the idea you have here - looks incredibly tasty. I bet Finn will eat more the next time, Stella.

  2. I have to deal with 2 picky palates, but I think Bill might like this. Adding sausage or pancetta might cancel out the "iffy" squash (which he has been known to eat on occasion). Yes, I love adding a pop of color to my winter meals, too...quite a challenge sometimes!!! xo

  3. Hi Stella,

    Your pasta does look summery to me with the addition of these bright colours!

    My son is the same like Finn... He will winch looking pasta dish with lots of vege but would eventually eat all if he is hungry... LOL!


    PS I want to thank you too for your Martha Stewart banana loaf recommendation. The loaf is fantastic!


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