An Autumn recipe from South Italy

by Daniela Chimienti

No season is so beautiful like Autumn. Golden leaves, chilly air, long walks into the wild.
Natural transformations occurr in the nature to make room for a new life cycle. Therefore let’s welcome and celebrate this time of year when people can pick mushrooms, eat chestnuts and drink – in Italy – the vino novello (the young wine). This is the season of persimmons, pumpkins and quinces. It’s common baking biscuits with hazelnuts or wallnuts and enjoying fresh squeezed pomegranate juice.

In the first cold days one can sit down on the couch with a good book and a herbal tea without guilty feelings for those idleness moments: in Autumn everything becomes slow and quiet. And we should slow down and just chill out as well. And what better way to do this than to cook together? Something savory, hearty, healthy and colorful, aligned with this season.

So let´s try this typical Italian recipe together! It comes from South Italy, exactly from Naples, and it belongs to the poor cuisine with its simple ingredients. I choose this one because pasta is the queen on Italian tables; and pumpkins are – beyond the fact that they are beautiful stars of Halloween and a food rich in vitamins and minerals – are a symbol of abundance and prosperity. So they ensure good luck.

Pasta and Pumpkin (in neapolitan pasta e cocozza)
300g short pasta
800g pumkin (Hokkaido variety) peeled and cut into cubes
1 garlic clove
Olive oil q.s.
1 dried chili pepper
Parsley finely chopped q.s.
Salt q.s.
Water q.s.

Fry a few minutes in a saucepan the pumpkin with oil, garlic, salt, chili and chopped
parsley. Then remove the garlic, add water and stew until it becomes soft and almost flaky (about 25 minutes over medium heat).
In the same saucepan add pasta and cover it with boiling water. (This particular technique is called “risottare”, i.e. to “rice up”, and it is used if you want to make your pasta as a risotto.)
Cook, stirring often until the liquid is absorbed. Plate it all up.
If you like, you can enrich the preparation with cubes of smoked bacon, flavor everything with saffron and grated pecorino or parmigiano. Be inspired by your imagination and taste.
For instance, sometimes I like to add few leaves of sage and crumbled wallnuts. So go ahead and just try.
Enjoy your meal!

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