This is a really great tasting pasta dish my mom used to make in the summer when the zucchini was growing in the garden and we had an abundance of fresh basil and oregano.
The great thing about growing your own zucchini was you got to pick zucchini flowers. We used to make a delicious fritter with the zucchini flowers. Unfortunately, zucchini flowers are very hard to find in the supermarket. If you have a farm nearby you can always ask them to pick the flowers for you. Or you just had to grow them yourself.
The fried zucchini flowers were made with 2 large eggs, 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of water, salt and pepper for the batter. Beat the batter till smooth and dip each whole zucchini flower, with the stamen removed and stem cut off, into the batter and fry in about 2 inches of oil. Delicious!
We used to grow a variety of zucchini we called gugutza. They were a light green, smooth skin vegetable that grew very long and sometimes curled. You can’t find it in any supermarket. I believe the neighbors on the block used to share the seeds they got from other gugutza plants that some brought back from Italy.
My Uncle Sal Arestia, my Aunt Mary’s husband, used to bring us gugutza from his Long Island farm all the time. Uncle Sal was a really good farmer. He used to grow all sorts of things on his property. But the one thing I remember the most was when he walked in with a brown paper bag filled with gugutza. And when we went to visit him we would leave with bushels full of fresh produce. Before Uncle Sal and Aunt Mary moved to their farm in Long Island they lived a block away from us in Brooklyn. Uncle Sal was a buttonholer, I guess that’s what they called them. He worked in a factory and his job was to put button holes on whatever they gave me. He did that for 30 or so years and when he retired he saved enough money to buy his farm in Long Island. That was his dream.
From a trip to Italy that my son’s made, Michael took some pictures of gugutza being sold at a market there. The gugutza was sold along side “Viagra naturale”, hot peppers. Those Italians do have a sense of humor!
- 4 small zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch quarters
- 1 medium onion, thinly slices
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 28 oz can of San Marzano peeled tomatoes, crushed
- 7-8 fresh basil leaves, torn
- 1 sprig of fresh oregano leaves
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 pound gemelli or bow tie pasta
Heat olive oil in a sauce pot. Cook onions over medium heat until soft, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add can of crushed plum tomatoes. Rinse the can with 1/4 cup water and put into the sauce.
Roughly tear the basil into pieces and add to the sauce along with the whole oregano leaves striped from the stem.
Add the zucchini and stir well.
Cook on medium low heat for at least 45 minutes or until the zucchini is tender. Taste for salt and pepper.
Cook the pasta as directed and drain. Top the pasta with the zucchini sauce and serve with grated Romano cheese.