Pasta Dishes/ Vegetarian Recipes

Pasta with Italian Squash or Calabaza Squash

Pasta with Italian Squash or Calabaza by


Pasta with Italian Squash or Calabaza Squash is known in Italy as “Pasta con Zucca,” or in the south of Italy it’s called “Pasta con Cocozza.” This dish is an old family recipe that my mom has been making for years and we still make this pasta with squash today; its a perfect Autumn dish.

The orange colored squash cooks down gently to a smooth creamy sauce with pieces of squash in it.  It is sautéed with garlic, fresh herbs and red pepper to give it a sweet and spicy savory taste.  It’s vegetarian delight, a pasta dish that is comfort food in our home and one you can make all winter long while it’s in season.

This particular Italian squash is called “cocozza.”  It’s a seasonal vegetable, that usually sells during the summer and fall.  Our mom would buy a bunch of this squash, take it home, peeled and chopped it up and freeze.  She enjoyed making this hearty pasta dish all winter long.

If you can find it, it looks like a very long and large zucchini with a dark green skin on the outside and deep orange on the inside. And the texture and taste is very similar to Calabaza squash which is a sweet Spanish squash you can find in most supermarkets and farm stands.


It’s still a popular item in today’s food markets in the Bronx, New York where most Italian immigrants first settled and  brought the seeds back from Italy.  If you can’t find the Italian squash called “cocozza,” then Calabaza squash is a fine substitute and just as delicious!

Sometimes its difficult to get kids to eat vegetables,  and this is a great way to “hide” them.  Kids love most pasta dishes and this one has a creamy texture like a mac and cheese and very flavorful!  So I hope you’ll give this recipe a try.

Try changing the spaghetti to something more fun, like pin-wheels, or mini bow-ties.  Add a little cheese on top and watch how your little ones eat this dish up. Adults love it too!

Pasta with Italian Squash or Calabaza Squash is a nice change from spaghetti with tomato sauce.  This is one of our favorite pasta dishes and we hope it will become yours too!


Pasta with Italian Squash or Calabaza Squash
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 2 pounds Italian squash- peeled, seeded, chopped
  • 1/8 crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley – chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 pound of spaghetti
  • fresh ground pepper
  • parmigiana grated cheese

In a medium size pot, heat on medium, add olive oil and garlic.
Sauté`garlic until golden brown. Add the crushed red pepper and salt.
Add squash, fresh parsley and 1/2 cup of water. Cover.
Lower heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the squash cooks down to a soft melting texture.

Take 1 package of spaghetti, divide in half and grab a few strands of spaghetti at a time.  With your hands, gently break into small pieces.

Continue until you finish and fill a bowl.

Remove the garlic cloves just before you add the broken spaghetti into the squash mixture.

Add spaghetti, additional 1/2 cup of water and bring to boil.

 Using a wooden spoon,  stir occasionally.  Gradually add more water ( about 1/4 cup each time) if needed.

Simmer on low heat for about 7 to 10 minutes, until the pasta is al dente.  (Al dente refers to the desired texture of cooked pasta in Italian cooking. It literally means “to the tooth,” meaning still firm when bitten.)  Taste for salt. Add some fresh ground pepper to taste!   Turn off heat. The squash should be a creamy sauce.  Stir again and serve into pasta dishes.  Add some parmigiana cheese on top!

Serves 4

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  • Reply
    Tricia @ saving room for dessert
    November 7, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    How fascinating! Thanks for the interesting post and delicious dish. What time do we eat? Have a great week.

  • Reply
    Kitchen Belleicious
    November 9, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    I haven't cooked with italian squash before. This is new to me and I can't wait to give it a try!

  • Reply
    tonia p
    September 12, 2013 at 2:11 am

    My first time using this type of squash, great recipe! I'm eating it right now, a little spicy and so yummy. My bf said. Where's the meat? Lol

    • Reply
      September 12, 2013 at 2:19 pm

      HI Tonia! And welcome to our recipe blog! It's so nice to meet you! And, we love to hear from you again. Glad you like this recipe and hope you will try some more soon! Have a great day!

  • Reply
    Dan from Platter Talk
    October 11, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Oh my. I've been looking for something to do with squash, all week. This is it!! Wonderful looking recipe, thanks for the great post!!

    • Reply
      October 24, 2013 at 12:29 am

      Hi Dan, Thanks, we have a few more recipes like this. If only we had more hours in the day to get these out there, right ?

  • Reply
    Marin mama cooks
    October 11, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    Just like pumpkin, I'm totally craving and digging squash right now. I've never thought to throw it in with some pasta. Great idea ladies and sometimes you have to bring recipes out from the archives and make them new again! Have a great weekend! xoxo, Jackie

  • Reply
    October 13, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    I’ve been tempted to make my own, so your post definitely has me inspired.

  • Reply
    October 21, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    Wow, that looks amazing! This is an inventive way to include squash in your meals. The addition of grated parmesan cheese was a fantastic choice. Try a different type of cheese to create a new twist on this awesome dish.

    • Reply
      October 22, 2013 at 4:04 am

      Hi Julia ! Welcome to our site! And, yes we have to try it with a different cheese and see how it'll turn out. Thanks for the suggestion!

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