Farm to Table Spaghetti

Farm-to-table fare at Country House Casale Centurione-Manoppello

Whether you’re a professional chef or an amateur home cook, there’s nothing quite as inspiring as cooking with garden or farm-fresh ingredients.  Last Saturday, in the bucolic countryside of Manoppello, Country House Casale Centurione, Abruzzo4foodies and I co-hosted an event called Abruzzo Country Cooking, at which our guests picked vegetables from the plentiful, organic garden of the lovely Casale, which is owned by my friend Giulia Scappaticcio and her family, and together, prepared a delicious farm-to-table meal.

Of the dishes we prepared, for me, the velvety spaghetti alla chitarra with zucchini and pine nuts was the highlight.  Giulia’s mother-in-law, the energetic Francesca, a talented cook who also happens to be a marathon runner (she ran the New York City Marathon in the late-90s), taught the group how to make this fresh summer dish using just-picked zucchini and a few other basic ingredients.  Similar to a pesto, but much creamier, the zucchini are pureed with oil, toasted pine nuts and fresh basil.  If you’re able to prepare the dish with fresh homemade spaghetti, as we did, you’re in for an extra-special treat, but good-quality imported spaghetti is a fine substitute.

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Spaghetti con zucchine e pinoli

Spaghetti con zucchine e pinoli

Recipe by Majella Home Cooking © as adapted from Country House Casale Centurione-Manopello

Serves 4

  • 1 lb fresh or dried spaghetti
  • 1 lb zucchini, ends trimmed, sliced into ½-inch thick rounds or semi-circles (depending on the thickness of the zucchini)
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, or more, if needed
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted*
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 6-8 basil leaves, stems removed

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a wide sauté pan, add the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering.  Add the garlic to the pan and sauté for 1-2 minutes, until the garlic begins to color. Add the zucchini, season with a large pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper and raise the heat to medium-high. Stir frequently and cook until the liquid released by the zucchini has evaporated and the zucchini are quite soft.  Transfer the zucchini, oil, garlic , half of the toasted pine nuts and the basil leaves to a blender or food processor and purée until smooth and velvety. If the mixture appears too thick or lumpy, add additional olive oil, one teaspoon at a time. Adjust seasonings to your liking with more salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, add the pasta to the pot of boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain well and toss the pasta with the zucchini purée and the remaining toasted pine nuts.  Serve with grated Parmigiano or Grana Padano.  Buon appetito!

*To toast pine nuts, place them in a dry skillet and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until they are golden in spots, about 3 minutes. Immediately transfer the pine nuts to a bowl to cool.

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15 thoughts on “Farm to Table Spaghetti

  1. Antonette July 24, 2013 at 9:23 am Reply

    Great idea…buon divertimento in Abruzzo e la bella vita!!! 🙂

  2. Louisa @ My Family & Abruzzo July 24, 2013 at 9:29 am Reply

    Sounds delicious and a nice change from a traditional pesto.

    • Majella Home Cooking July 24, 2013 at 9:31 am Reply

      Thanks, Louisa! It was really quite inspired. Look forward to checking out your blog!

  3. Ovid July 24, 2013 at 1:38 pm Reply

    I so wish I’d been there. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    • Majella Home Cooking July 24, 2013 at 3:41 pm Reply

      We missed you as well! Looking forward to catching up on Sulmona this weekend!

  4. Pat Reynolds July 24, 2013 at 3:37 pm Reply

    We were fortunate to be there and it was every bit as good as Michelle has said. I’m giving it a go tomorrow

  5. Kat at travelgardeneat July 24, 2013 at 6:31 pm Reply

    How did you know that there would be a large bunch of basil along with a couple zucchini in our CSA box I just picked up?! Sharing on both my personal and blog Facebook pages!

    • Majella Home Cooking July 25, 2013 at 3:20 am Reply

      Thanks, Kat! This is really a lovely summer recipe and if you feel up to making your own pasta, you’re really in for a treat!

  6. ciaochowlinda July 26, 2013 at 12:38 pm Reply

    Yum. I love this idea and wish I’d been there to cook with you. But I’ll be trying this at home in Princeton this summer.

    • Majella Home Cooking July 26, 2013 at 1:01 pm Reply

      I wish you could have cooked with us too, Linda! Who knows? Perhaps one of these days we’ll host a cooking event together here in Abruzzo! 😉

  7. Pat Reynolds July 27, 2013 at 4:43 pm Reply

    Just cooked my first homemade pasta and the fabulous sauce. Really yummy! I can certainly recommend it.

  8. Valeria Cáceres August 20, 2013 at 9:54 pm Reply

    My friend has been so great to find out your web site!!! Iam so happy you are in this industry with such a big passion!! 2 years ago i spent a week in Tuscany and believe me i thought about you and how wonderful is Italy and the italian cooking!! I’ll follow your blog… since i love italian food and try to cook sometimes!! Abrazos grandes

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