Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Penne con la Zucca (Penne with Pumpkin / Kabocha): Harvest Fare from Tessa Kiros

I got a small taste of fall being in Portland last week. I would have liked a little more sun but at least the crisp cool air and the bright colors from the turning leaves were there. Since moving to Hawaii over 10 years ago, fall is one of the things I miss the most--not that I am complaining or anything, it's just always been my favorite season. Food at least gives me the opportunity to create a little autumn magic, even when it's a bit sticky and humid out. This Penne con la Zucca, or Penne with Pumpkin from Twelve: A Tuscan Cookbook by Tessa Kiros, makes me want to go put on a fuzzy sweater and jump in a pile of leaves. There's a little touch of fall in every bite.

I used a local kabocha squash (aka Japanese pumpkin) in my version--perhaps my favorite winter squash. I also added in some garlic and used a couple of links of organic Italian chicken sausage I had in the fridge. Combined with some multi-grain penne (5 grams of fiber), it is a satisfying bowl of pasta goodness. The kind of dish you'd enjoy on a cool night with a big orange Harvest Moon--our theme for I Heart Cooking Clubs this week, or sitting in front of the fan on a warm October night in Hawaii (a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do). Either way it's delicious. ;-)

Tessa Kiros says, "Pumpkins are used in a variety of dishes, including breads, jams, soups and pasta. Because they keep well once harvested, they often present on Tuscan tables during the winter months."

Penne con la Zucca (Penne with Pumpkin/Kabocha)
Adapted slightly from Twelve by Tessa Kiros
(Serves 6)

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped finely
(I added 3 cloves of garlic, minced)
1 Italian sausage, about 80 g (3 oz), skin removed and crumbled or 80 g (3 oz) of unsmoked pancetta, chopped finely. (I used 2 organic Italian chicken sausages)
300 g (10.5 oz) skinned, cleaned pumpkin, peeled and sliced finely (I used kabocha)
400 g (14 oz) tin of peeled and pureed tomatoes with juice (I used Pomi chopped tomatoes)
1/2 small dried red chilli (I used a good-sized pinch of crushed red chili peppers)
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) penne or other short pasta
about 120 g (1 1/4 cups) grated Parmesan cheese, to serve

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) and add them to the pan. Add the tomato and chilli, and season with salt and pepper. Add about 750 ml (3 cups) of water and simmer for 30-40 minutes. 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.

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. Put into individual pasta bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Notes/Results: This is one really lovely bowl of pasta. The sweet creaminess of the kabocha or pumpkin, the kick from the dried red chilli, the savory bits of sausage... Yum! I ended up cooking mine about an hour total to get it to a good creaminess, but beyond cutting up the squash it is pretty effortless to make--just simmering away and making the kitchen smell heavenly. Although I have not been cooking and eating much meat lately I was doing some freezer cleaning out and had some good organic Italian chicken sausage stashed away that I didn't want to waste so I used it in this dish. If you want to make it vegetarian, just omit the sausage entirely, use a veggie sausage or some minced mushrooms. As with most squash,kabocha is loaded with nutrients like beta carotene, iron, vitamin C, potassium, folic acid, and a few of B vitamins--perfect for building up your fall immunities. This is just a great dish all around and one I will make again.

You can check out what the other IHCC peeps made for their Harvest Moon dishes by going to the post here and following the links.

A pasta dish as good as this needs to be shared over at Ruth's Presto Pasta Nights, hosted this this week by Theresa of The Food Hunters Guide. Check out her round up on Friday of lots of delectable pasta creations.


  1. Kabocha is my favorite squash also! I buy it almost exclusively. I'm sure I would adore this pasta. I need to find some good veggie sausages and then I'll be good to go!

  2. I love squash and pasta! And thank you for putting up with my bad linking behavior!

  3. Lovely looking pasta and now I can put a name to my favorite winter squash. Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Night.

  4. That is so beautiful. It just looks like a plate full of fall goodness. Do you know, I've never been able to find kabocha around here. Hopefully that will change this year. Fantastic dish,Deb :D

  5. that looks so perfect for the season!

  6. That looks scrumptious Deb! Definitely a great Fall dinner.

  7. I just stocked up on three kinds of winter squash and am feeling very Joanne about the whole thing.
    Just finished reading Andreas's post - what a great idea to do pasta with squash. Great minds!
    Looks delicious.

  8. "a little touch of fall in every bite"
    What more could you ask for? Great description. Great dish.

  9. Great post lady and thats one good-lookin' bowl of pasta.

  10. Looks really pretty and in keeping with the season. We love anything pasta, marking this one to try soon. Your little pumpkin decor is so cute and fun...I never think to be creative like that, so I appreciate it when people do think of it...very nice.

  11. Oh that looks and sounds lovely! It looks gorgeous too.

  12. I must have missed this one when I was looking through her books. I really love the combo of ingredients. I like how there's a little bit of spice, a little bit of cheese, etc. It looks wonderful!


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