recipe: penne salsa di zucca e il maiale arrostito con zucca e finocchi

I love doing seasonal dishes when I can. Much like my affinity for cooking based on what I can get fresh at the big shopping centers I typically go to as well as what is locally grown and that always means great seasonal faves. As I mentioned before, I missed apples this year, so therefor it was all about pumpkins this year for ideas. A recent trip to Italy found a lot of great squash recipes of which they were just beginning to touch on the gourds for their dishes and although I haven’t gotten to write out my own version of the risotto I had, this was perfect for what I could put together conceptually from that idea… The typical meal in courses means there are two main dishes, not served together, although, you could, if you so chose (might be a bit of palette overkill). You can use either fresh or canned, it takes about 2-3 times shredded pumpkin to equal the same amount you would use canned, but if you are doing this during fresh season, I strongly suggest a good sized sugar pumpkin and you’ll get a lot of use out of the flesh for cooking.

For the pasta part (Primo, first course), Italian cooking is really about the dish, not the sauce, so don’t go overboard making a huge amount of sauce unless you are going to set it aside and freeze it for a later meal. It should lightly coat and accent the pasta. Chances are you aren’t making the pasta fresh, so follow the direx below, if you are making it fresh, I wouldn’t even boil the pasta, I would blanch it and finish it in the sauce. If you are using prepackaged remember to finish it al dente or to taste in the skillet NOT in the stock pot otherwise it’ll be overcooked. Same thing goes on serving, you can offer additional cheese (and pepper) at the table, but really, it should be a garnish, not changing the texture or flavor of the dish. Moral of the story go easy on the sauce! For this, I actually like a wheat or multigrain pasta as the nutty flavor it brings to the dish.

As for the secundo, the amount of fennel and pumpkin is up to you. I would personally roast some extra pumpkin since this really is supposed to be a nice season dish and the pumpkin is going to be the feature, but remember too, the pumpkin and fennel should BOTH be playing accent to the pork, don’t kill the pork by going overboard with the veggies and don’t go overboard with the spices comparred to the veggies, the veggies should stand on their own too!

Finally, the last thing is the nutmeg… fresh is always better than the packaged preground.

bell pepper
black pepper
parsley (flat leaf)
veggie stock
heavy creme
parmesana reggiano
heavy skillet
stock pot

finely dice the onion, bell pepper and garlic, shred/ grate the carrot
Combine in a heavy skillet with some oil and begin to sweat the veggies
Add the pumpkin and allow it to begin to soften (if shredded fresh this is a separate step, if canned add the next step too)
Add the the veggie stock and creme (about 1 cup stock to 2-3 tbsp creme)
Season with the black pepper and nutmeg
Boil water in the water in the stock pot
Add the penne to the water and cook till just about al dente (follow package instructions usually 6-8 minutes do NOT over cook!)
Allow the skillet to simmer over low heat, reducing liquid by at least half and begins to take on a thickened consistency
Drain the pasta, reserve a few tablespoons of the starched pasta waster
Add the pasta and the flat leaf parsley to the simmering skillet
Toss lightly, reseason as necessary with the black pepper and nutmeg and toss again


bell pepper
fennel (both the bulb – firenze finocchiol and the fronds – finocchiella)
black pepper
parsley (flat leaf)
veggie stock
white wine
pork ternerloins
large roasting pan

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F
finely dice the 1/2 fennel, onion, bell pepper and 1/2 garlic, shred/ grate the carrot
Combine in a heavy skillet with some oil and begin to sweat the veggies
Add the 1/2 pumpkin (shredded part) and allow it to begin to soften (if shredded fresh this is a separate step, if canned add the next step too, if you are doing fresh, reserve some long strips of the pumpkin not shredded for later)
Take the other 1/2 the fennel and make long slices of the bulb, an 1/2 half the pumpkin and make slices out of
Add the stock and wine (about 1:1 ratio, no more than 2:1) along with black pepper and nutmeg
Place the entire mixture into the roasting pan
Season the tenderloins by rubbing with black pepper and nutmeg (along with dried garlic, onion, celery if you have it)
Sear with a small amount of oil in the heavy skillet over high heat until browned on all sides but not cooked through
Place the tenderloins in the roasting pan
In the skillet arrange the strips of fennel and pumpkin (or if no pumpkin is fresh, use 1/4 of the canned in this step)
Sear and then add to the roasting pan
Bake until a thermometer reaches an internal temperature of 155 degrees, which is about 30 minutes normally
Remove the pork and allow to rest
Return the liquid and veggies to the skillet over high heat but holding aside the remaining slices of fennel and pumpkin
Allow the sauce to reduce by at least half
Slice the meat and plate with the roasted fennel and pumpkin
Serve the sauce over the slices of meat with the emphasis being on the meat, not the sauce!

About thedoormouse

I am I. That’s all that i am. my little mousehole in cyberspace of fiction, recipes, sacrasm, op-ed on music, sports, and other notations both grand and tiny:
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