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Cappellacci di Zucca

3 Popular and Delicious Italian Autumn Vegetable Recipes

Pumpkins and squash are the quintessential autumn vegetables and one of the best ways to enjoy them is in Cappellacci di Zucca from Ferrara, a quaint cobblestoned city in Emilia Romagna. But Ferrara isn’t the only place to enjoy the dish. Towns across the country have festivals celebrating squash and pumpkin. One of the most famous is found in Venzone, a northeastern hamlet whose spectacular annual pumpkin festival includes shows, fire-eaters and competitions for the biggest and best locally grown pumpkins, making it a perfect excuse to visit the village recently voted Italy’s most beautiful.

Cappellacci di Zucca

‘Cappellacci’ means ‘little hats’ because of the pasta parcels’ supposed resemblance to peasants’ straw hats. They are always made by hand and usually served in a butter sauce or sometimes with a meat or tomato sauce. Butternut squash is most often used but you can use pumpkin, too.


For the filling

  • 1 pound butternut squash
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 ounces grated Parmigiano cheese
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon dry breadcrumbs
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • salt and pepper

Filling Preparation

To prepare the filling, first roast the butternut squash (seeds removed, skin on), with some olive oil. When cooled, remove the pulp with a spoon and place it in a bowl with the rest of the filling ingredients and combine well. The mixture should not be too wet, but you can add more breadcrumbs or Parmigiano if needed. Set aside while you prepare the pasta.

For the pasta and sauce

  • 2 ½ cups type 00 flour
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 additional egg yolks
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 bunch of sage
  • grated Parmigiano cheese

Pasta Preparation

Place the flour on a clean surface and create a ‘well’ in the middle of the flour. Add the cracked eggs and yolks. Using a fork, whisk the eggs together. While still whisking, slowly begin to incorporate the surrounding flour until the mixture becomes creamy and eventually becomes too thick to continue whisking. With floured hands, finish combining the flour until the dough no longer sticks to your hands. Knead on a floured surface for about 5 minutes, or until it becomes smooth and elastic. Let the dough rest, covered with a damp cloth for at least 30 minutes.

After the dough has rested, divide into four pieces (keep the pieces that are not in use covered), roll out the pasta into paper-thin sheets. With a frilled-edge pastry cutter, divide the sheets into strips approximately 2 ¾ inches wide and then into squares the same width. Place a heaped teaspoonful of mixture in the center of each square and on two of the sides, dab or brush some water. Then fold one corner of the pasta to the other to make a triangles. Carefully push out any air from the center towards the edge before sealing. Next, fold the outer corners of the triangle together and seal by pressing down gently – this part of the cappellacci will essentially have 4 layers of pasta dough, so press to squash the dough and keep the shape of the cappellacci. Let the cappellacci rest and dry out for ½ hour on a well-floured board before cooking. Cook the pasta in a pot of salted boiling water, until they begin to float, around 6 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the sauce by melting the butter in a skillet over medium heat and letting it turn a caramel brown color. Add the sage leaves and let them infuse in the butter. Add a ladle of pasta water and whisk to create an emulsion. When the cappellacci are ready, remove them with a slotted spoon and place in the sauce, gently coating them. Serve with a generous amount of grated Parmigiano cheese.

Pumpkin Strata

Italian Pumpkin Strata is a dense, creamy vegetable-filled strata that combines bread, cheese, milk, pumpkin and eggs to create a moist and delicious dish.


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped green bell pepper
  • ½ cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 loaf of Italian bread cut into 1 ½” cubes
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 24 oz. whole milk
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon dried marjoram, crushed


Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Heat the oil in large skillet over medium-high flame. Add the sausage, onion, bell peppers and garlic. Cook, stirring to break up sausage, for 7 to 10 minutes, or until sausage is no longer pink, then drain. Combine the bread cubes, cheese and sausage mixture in a large bowl. Beat the milk, pumpkin, eggs, salt, pepper, oregano, basil and marjoram in a medium bowl. Pour over bread mixture, stirring gently to moisten bread. Pour into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until set. Allow to cool and serve warm.

Stufato di Zucca

Of all of Italy’s gastronomically diverse 20 regions, none raises the pumpkin and squash to such culinary heights as the Veneto. As the weather gets chillier, this stew with dry-cured olives and garlic will keep you warm and satisfied. The combination of fresh pumpkin, cumin and chili-spiked, black, dry-cured olives, garlic and tomatoes is a superb blend, naturally sweet and intensely aromatic. Pumpkin or squash alone is bland, but the pungent, dry-cured olives and garlic carry the dish to a new level. Make it a day before you plan to serve it to allow the flavors time to develop.


  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 large cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 cup canned tomato purée
  • 1 small pumpkin (about 1½ pounds), peeled, seeded and cut into 1” cubes
  • 20 black dry-cured olives, pitted and halved
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper


In a saucepan over medium flame, warm the oil and garlic together until the garlic is fragrant, about 4 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, stir and bring slowly to a simmer, about 4 minutes. Add the pumpkin, olives, thyme and ¾ cup water. Cover partially and simmer over low heat until tender, about 40 minutes. Season with the salt and pepper to taste. Cool and allow the flavors to blend. Reheat gently before serving.