Remember I told you I had pumpkin on the brain lately? Even though I didn’t get it together this year to make a pumpkin pie, I’ve been making up for it in other, savory, ways.
When you say pumpkin to an American the first thing they think of is pie, right? Or maybe muffins or something else sweet. Say zucca to any Italian and the response will definitely be risotto or maybe ravioli. And in fact the natural sweetness of pumpkins lends itself perfectly to cheesy and/or meaty combinations.
Rustichella must have been reading my pumpkin-focussed mind last week, since they sent me a few boxes of their newest product: Fiori di Zucca. This squiggly shaped pasta is made (according to the box) with 30% pumpkin. The color kind of makes me think they’re telling the truth. The bright orange, baroquely shaped pasta had my name written all over it.
But how to sauce it? If you start out with a base that is both starchy and maybe slightly sweet, then the sauce has to add a lot of earthiness to the mix. Luckily I had a pair of liver sausages from Bernabei tucked away in my freezer. Perfectly seasoned it was basically liver sauce – chopped up and ready to go – in a sausage casing. I barely did anything to them, just peeled away the casings and sauteed the crumbled meat in some olive oil, with some onions.
I have to admit that I’m usually not a fan of flavored pasta. The color is usually weird, and the taste almost always non-existent. So I was very happily surprised that the Fiori di Zucca lived up to their promise. They stayed firm and chewy to the bite (as does all the slow dried Rustichella pasta, which is why it’s one of my favorites) and the vivid orange color held up in cooking. And the taste? It really did taste of pumpkin. I was shocked. That slightly sweet, but kind of rounded and almost buttery taste of pumpkin definitely came through in the end.
If you can find liver sausage (make the effort, please) use that. If not? Then use any non-spicy Italian type sausage. And don’t add other things. I know you’ll be tempted, because this recipe seems so easy. But really, it’s all in the simplicity of the ingredients. Trust me.
- 1 pound/ ½ kilo Rustichella Fiori di Zucca Pasta
- 3 liver sausages
- 1 medium onion
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup grated pecorino cheese
- black pepper
- Peel and chop the onion.
- Pour the olive oil in a pan big enough to hold all of the pasta later. Heat over gentle heat, and add the onion and salt. Cook gently, until the onion is very soft. About a half hour. Be careful not to let the onion brown. You really want to retain the sweetness.
- In the meantime take the liver sausage out of the casing. Once the onion has cooked, add the sausage, stirring, till it looses it’s rawness and is cooked through. This shouldn’t take too long.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, then add the pasta. Cook until al dente.
- Drain, reserving a cup of the pasta water.
- Add drained pasta to the pan with the sausage and stir over medium heat. Add some of the pasta water, about a third of a cup, and keep heating to let the flavors mix. Turn off heat, and add about a ⅓ cup grated pecorino along with some more water, stirring to let it melt.
- Serve the pasta topped with a bit more grated cheese and freshly ground black pepper.
Rustichella kindly sent me a sample of this new pasta, Fiori di Zucca, to play around with. As always, I gladly accept samples to try out, but only write about things that I love and would recommend. I receive no compensation for this, other than the bag of pasta.