I realised this only after I clicked the photo with a fork on the side. :(
You might think that I am crazy about bottle gourd. Considering my latest posts, you have reason enough to. However, to be honest, this one is just a coincidence. Well, let me begin from the beginning.
As you know, I went on a holiday last week. As many of you guessed it right here, it was Italy. More precisely, Sicily. ('Mafia' is the first word that comes to your mind? You are a well-read person then. :)) We stayed in the village of Trappeto, which is a part of the Palermo province. We went there on an invitation by this Italian friend of mine, Nina. She has a house there; it's her hometown. Although she is very much a resident of Düsseldorf for over forty years now, she enjoys staying in Sicily in the summer months. I don't blame her; Sicily is indeed beautiful. Will write more about it in another post.
What they call zucchino in Sicily (R) and its leaves (L).
Only the smaller, tender leaves were used in the dish.
Recipe for Spaghettini with Zucchini/Bottle gourd and its leaves
One long Italian bottle gourd or a medium-size regular bottle gourd or two small dark green zucchini, as we know them
Leaves of the bottle gourd vine (Only the tender ones at the tip should be picked.)
250 g. Spaghettini (or spaghetti crushed as explained above)
2-3 tbsp olive oil
7-8 cloves of garlic, peeled and cut
water for cooking
salt & pepper to taste
grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese to sprinkle
1. Coarsely chop the tender leaves picked from the bottle gourd vine. Soak them in salted water for the tiny insects/worms to settle at the bottom. In case using spinach, first wash the leaves with plain water and then chop them coarse.
2. Peel the bottle gourd/zucchini. In case you are wondering what to do with the peel, see here. Chop it in bite-sized pieces.
Left to right: chopped bottle gourd, peeled bottle gourd and
picked & chopped bottle gourd leaves
3. Take the leaves out of the salt-water solution and give them a quick rinse.
4. Take lots of water in a large pan and bring it to boil. Then add the leaves as well as the chopped zucchini to it.
5. Cook uncovered until the zucchini pieces are soft.
6. Drain the cooked vegetables reserving the water in which they were cooked.
7. Now place the tomatoes in a shallow dish and pour some boiling water over them. Let them rest like that for a couple of minutes, then take them out into a plate and peel them. The peel will come out easily. Roughly chop these tomatoes.
8. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the garlic pieces. Once they turn a shade darker, add the peeled, chopped tomatoes and salt. Cook uncovered on high heat. Mash it with the back of a ladle while it is cooking.
Olive oil ready to sizzle the garlic
(That's a lot of oil, but Nina is not scared.
It is locally pressed oil from locally grown olives.
It can do no harm, she believes.)
9. In the meanwhile, heat the water in which the veggies were cooked. Once it starts boiling, add the spaghettini and some salt. Cook it uncovered until al dente. Once cooked, drain much of the water from it, reserving some in the pan.
10. The tomato sauce must be ready now with a smooth, homogenous consistency. Add it to the pan with the Spaghettini. Add the cooked veggies too. The dish should be rather soupy. Give it a stir and check the taste for salt.
11. Ladle it into deep dishes/bowls. Sprinkle crushed pepper and grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese over it.
Serve hot with some olives and warm Ciabatta bread on the side. Mmmmmmm....... Buono.... :)