Recipe the Second:
‘It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; “
I can’t think of A Tale of Two Cities without hearing Ronald Colman ….
And now for a far better thing. Not that Broccoli Sauce’d Sicilano was bad…..
When I went to my friendly neighborhood super market and saw these little squashes, cute as bugs ears, live and in living color – and 50 cents a piece – I had to get me 2. I swear I had seen SOMETHING about them in the last week or so, so I starting poking around……
Chayote – it’s a kind of summer squash
But could I find anything that even had that word in it, that word I’m still not sure how to pronounce. The cashier called them coyote squashes….hey, she knew they were squashes….
So then I turned to the ‘grow veg/eat veg’, the straight and narrow garden to table books that I have unpacked. Several identified them, but didn’t mention how to use them…..and they have aliases….
Deborah Madison Vegetable Literacy, which I’m thoroughly enjoying and will need to read several times, there’s so much between these covers. No chaypote.
Dominca Marchetti The Glorious Vegetables of Italy, which has a dozen dishes I want to do, as well as small batch of giardiniera (five pints being as small a batch that 1 cauliflower can make) lots of summer squashes and zucchinis, no chaypote.
Herbivoracious by Michael Natkin not a garden to table, but amazing vegetarian food and lots of great asides …..and the book falls open to the Sicilian Spaghetti with Pan-roasted Cauliflower – and where I sub out the pine nuts I’m not too terribly fond of, so why should I pay THAT sort of money for them, with almonds……shades of saucy broccoli….which may have even been the dish he served up at the book signing. My bus ticket is marking the page, so it was on May 6th 2012, in Somerville. His website is Herbivoracious ,too.
And then I flipped through The Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon.
This book is over 1000 pages, a workout in every reading. I love this cover. Shades of Carmen Miranda!
A little back story: Bean By Bean was where I first met Ms Dragonwagon. But not this revised, 21st century edition, no, not at all. It was a slim booklet, like you’d get from some sort of community group edition. Back in the early ‘80’s vegetarian cooking stuff was still very much a small press/artsy/folksy/hippy-ified/ handmade/crafted sort of thing. I read the whole book standing up in a kitchen, oblivious to the gathering going around me. I don’t remember exactly where or what event, because there was a whole book about beans, and the beans were good. The beans were varied. The beans were interesting. The beans were amazing!
The cover was torn off, so I never saw it till I found it on the internet, much more recently.
The little pamphlet like book on the left is the first BBB that I met up with – without the colorful front cover.The one on he right is the new, revised edition.
The recipes were all beans and were all vegetarian. Since I knew if you give an Italian woman a pound of beans, she can feed a horde 30 different courses….I naturally had to wonder,
“What was ‘Dragonwagon’ before Ellis Island changed it when they came from Italy?”
Yes, I immediately and completely Italianized Crescent Dragonwagon.
I carried this assumption around for a really long time. Hey – there was no internet in the olden days! When The Passionate Vegetarian came out early 21st century, the cover image only reinforced my belief. Look at her – she’d fit right in an Italian crowd. My people do things with flair. And she was certainly my people…ironically, the very heft and size of The Passionate Vegetation kept me from it for a while.Not forever, but still…
Another Italian, another fruit basket worn as a hat…..
Fast forward to 6 or 7 years ago.
I join Facebook.
I join to keep in touch with people who I’d worked with. I re-connected with some people I had seen or heard from in years. Then I discover Groups – places with topics for like-minded people to gather….groups that talk about food and cooking….and in one of these Groups was
She also had her own pages, and she can tell you her own story – like about her name….. (Here’s a hint – she’s not the least bit Italian) This is her website about her, her writing,and workshops . Because she was commenting on some of the same pages I was reading, and I was even daring to offer some sort of comment from time to time, there were some occasions we were part of a ….conversation.
Now, if you want to continue to converse with certain people on Facebook, you have you request to ‘Friend’ them. You can also un-friend people, which isn’t as drastic as it sounds, and you can downright block people, if they turn out to be a troll (an apt image if ever there was one), and you can also set your privacy settings which helps you control where your stuff goes when it leaves you. In short, though – don’t say anything on the internet you wouldn’t want on the 6 o’clock News, film at 11.
So, I send a Friend request to Crescent Dragonwagon.
She wrote back and said the word friend was one she didn’t take lightly, and could I tell her something about myself that we might have in common (she phrased it much, much better). This is the only time anyone on Facebook has responded this way.
I was thrilled. Where to begin????
So I told her about my Aunt Eileen, who gave me my first cookbook and said,
“Every recipe is a story. And not all of them have happy endings.”
I was particularly thrilled because she was working on revising – and by revising she pretty much re-worked it from stem to stern – Bean by Bean
Sooooo, as I was looking for chayote…..which in the index said, “Chayote. See Mirlitons”, which in turn brings me to the Squash Family which brought me to Pasta with Pumpkin. A pasta recipe on the same page as Pasta with Hearty Greens and Beans, which is rather a way of winter life for me….and because I had taken some of the roasted pumpkin out of the freezer to make a pumpkin panzanella but what I really wanted as a hot dish, which meant I would have to invent savory pumpkin bread pudding….OR I could just make the Pumpkin with Pasta, have my hot meal and be done with it.
Read the recipe, the whole recipe and nothing but this recipe right NOW.
I have the actual ingredients, except my punkin is already cooked, so just needs to be heated through…..
7 oz fettucine or linguine (half a box)
1 # roasted deep orange pumpkin/squash (no peels, no seeds – I don’t really need to add that, do I?) PS – I love my freezer gold!
1 Tablespoon olive oil, plus more for serving
3 cloves garlic, pressed
Salt and pepper
- Cook the noodles. Save about a cup of pasta water before you drain.
- Put the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the pumpkin and the garlic, stir madly about, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Breakup any of the larger pumpkin chunks – the smaller ones with break down mostly on there on to make the sauce.
- Combine the cooked noodles with the hot pumpkin. Adjust season. Add some of the pasta water to loosen, if that’s what you like (I find there’s such a moisture variation with different gourds, that a little extra water is always good to have on hand.)
- Serve hot with Parmesan cheese on top.
Note: These are generous servings. I’ve been eating a big bowl and had enough for a whole ‘nother meal, and still had the orphan portion that was just right for a 3 egg frittata.
Adapted from Pasta with Pumpkin in Crecent Dragonwagon’s Passionate Vegetarian. Workman Publishing: New York. 2002. p.858.