Pasta with Italian Squash or Calabaza Squash
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 our mom has been making for years; and we still make this pasta dish with squash today. It’s a perfect Autumn dish to serve family and friends!
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, and prep it. First, she would peel, chop and freeze it so she could enjoy making this hearty pasta dish all winter long.
If you can find it, it looks like a very long and large dark green zucchini, only shaped like a mini baseball bat.
When you cut into it, its flesh is a deep orange color, similar to butternut squash or a pumpkin.
The texture and taste are very similar to the Calabaza squash, which happens to be a sweet Spanish squash you can find in most supermarkets and farm stands.
For this recipe, Italian squash or Calabaza squash is first cubed and cooked down to a smooth creamy sauce with chunks of squash in it.
Similar to our Pasta with Creamy Cauliflower dish, the squash (like cauliflower) is sautéed with olive oil, garlic, fresh herbs, and red pepper to give it a sweet and spicy savory taste.
A wonderful vegetarian dish, this pasta dish is pure comfort food and one you can enjoy all winter long while it’s in season.
Calabaza squash is still a popular item found in food markets in the New York tri-state area; and especially found in the Bronx, New York where most Italian immigrants first settled and brought back the seeds from Italy.
If you can’t find the Italian squash called “cocozza,” then Calabaza squash is a great substitute and just as delicious!
Sometimes it’s difficult to get kids to eat vegetables, and this is a great way to “hide” them in pasta dishes. I found that our kids loved this pasta dish simply because the texture is SO creamy, similar to the creaminess of our favorite mac and cheese.
And it’s so darn delicious and flavorful! You’ll wonder why you haven’t had this dish before.
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 for more flavor 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. A favorite in our home and hope it will become yours too!
*Follow along, or jump down to the bottom of this post for our full recipe card!
Ingredients for Pasta with Italian Squash or Calabaza Squash:
1/4 cup of olive oil
5 garlic cloves
1 large Italian squash (about 2 pounds )- peeled, seeded, chopped
1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup fresh parsley – chopped
1 cup water, and extra
1/2 pound (8-ounce) of spaghetti
fresh ground pepper
grated parmigiana cheese, for serving at the table
1. In a medium-size pot, and on moderate heat, add olive oil and garlic. Sauté`garlic until golden brown.
2. Add the crushed red pepper and salt. Then add in the squash, fresh parsley, and 1/2 cup of water, and cover with a lid. Lower heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the squash cooks down to a soft melting texture.
3. 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.
4. Remove the garlic cloves just before you add the broken spaghetti into the squash mixture.
5. Add spaghetti, an additional 1/2 cup of water, and bring to boil.
6. Using a wooden spoon, stir occasionally. Gradually add more water ( about 1/4 cup each time) if needed.
7. 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, but tender when bitten.)
8. Taste and season with some fresh ground pepper and salt to taste! Turn off the heat. The squash should be a creamy sauce.
9. Stir again and serve into pasta dishes. Add some parmigiana cheese on top!
More Tasty Veggie Loaded Pasta Recipes!
Zucchini Tomato Sauce over Fusilli Pasta
Pasta with Creamy Cauliflower
Pasta Cooked with Broccoli in 15 minutes!
Pasta with Baby Peas
Pasta with Italian Squash or Calabaza Squash
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- 5 garlic cloves
- 2 pounds Italian squash- peeled, seeded, chopped
- 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley - chopped
- 1 cup water, and extra
- 1/2 pound (8-ounce) box of spaghetti
- fresh ground pepper
- grated parmigiana cheese, at the table
- 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, increments of about 1/4 cup each time, if needed.
- Simmer on low heat for about 6 to 7 minutes, or 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 to the bite.) Taste and season with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste! When pasta is ready.
- Turn off heat. The squash should be a creamy texture. Stir again and ladle into pasta dishes. Add some parmigiana cheese on top and serve!
- Serves 4
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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.
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!
I’ve been tempted to make my own, so your post definitely has me inspired.
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
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!!
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 ?
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
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!
I haven't cooked with italian squash before. This is new to me and I can't wait to give it a try!
How fascinating! Thanks for the interesting post and delicious dish. What time do we eat? Have a great week.