Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Penne ai fiori di zucca

I really need to learn to take better food pictures
This recipe was found at


  • 3-4 fiori di zucca 3-4 courgette flowers. I first thought this was spoons of sugar. It's clearly not.
  • 1/2 zucchina ½ a courgette. Zucchina? Like zucchini! That's American for courgette.
  • 1 cipollotto di Tropea Neither I not my dictionary have any idea what this is. It's an onion of some kind. Google image search indicates that it is a small red onion. That seems like something you'd put in a pasta dish, so it is probably right. 
  • Specia a piacere Spices of some kind. Piacere means pleasure or delight. Like placate, I guess. So this either means delightful spices, or whatever spices you think would go with it.
  • Olio Evo Olio is fairly transparent; it means oil. Evo is a bit of a mystery. My dictionary puts it as meaning age or epoch, which is a fairly unlikely translation. It could either be an Italian brand name, an abbreviation for something or a typo. A spot of light googling reveals two things; firstly, I'm not the first person to ask this, and secondly, it's extra-virgin olive oil
Fresh from the garden
  1. Ho lavato, pulito e tritato il cipollotto, tenendo anche la parte più verde del gambo che è molto profumata e fa anche bene, e preparato un soffritto con un filo di olio d’oliva. I washed, cleaned and choped the onion, wait, this is in the past tense. I wonder if that is normal? also taking the more green bit from the stem (gambo, had to look that up) which is (very perfumed is odd, so I'll go with very tasty) and also goes very well, and I browned the onion and spices (English does not have a work word for soffrito, but that's what internet says) with a (spoon? Hah, no, my dictionary says thread, so a little bit. Let's go for drizzleof olive oil.
  2. Poi ho aggiunto mezza zucchina tagliata molto sottile. Then (makes sense) I added (like ajouté in French, or adjunct in English) very thin slices of halved courgette (I had to look every word up - although tagliata is clearly like tagliatele, strips of pasta. Mezza means half).
  3. Ho lavato i fiori, ho tolto il pistillo, li ho tritati e uniti alle verdure. I washed the flowers, I removed (tolto means either except or removed but this looks like it is a verb) the pistollo (the… the… I don't know the word in English and neither does the dictionary. I think it means the bit inside the flower that is probably its sex organs or something), chop them (or possibly mince them) and unite all the vegetables (against their vegan overlords?).
  4. Aggiungete le spezie che vi piacciono di più, io ho messo curcuma e un mix di pepe. Add the spices that you love (piacc- looks like it's related to placate, so "add the spices that placate you is a literal, but awful translation) the most (aww). I mixed put in turmeric (curcumin is a chemical found in termeric that may have anti-cancer properties) and a mix of peepee pepper. 
  5. A questo punto buttate la pasta corta che vi piace di più e una volta scolata fatela saltare un minuto nella padella assieme al condimento di verdure. At this point, throw the pasta (well, you ain't gonna grill it) that delights you the most you want to use and (okay, I had to look almost every word up here. Nella means in the, padella means frying pan which is cute because it is paddle-shaped, but I think it basically means into the pan with the vegetables and stir through)
  6. Se il soffritto si asciuga va aggiunta un po’ d’acqua (o un goccio di latte di soia se vi piace un effetto “pannoso” nella pasta). If the fried onion goes dry, add a little water (or a dash of soy milk if you delight in like a creamy effect in the pasta).
I fiori di zucca cuociono abbastanza alla svelta quindi non vanno tenuti troppo sul fuoco. The courgette flowers cook very quickly, so should not be on the heat too long.

Culinary Notes
The delightful spices I chose were saffron and smoked paprika, but I think a bit of basil or something would have gone well. I used one small onion from the garden, with a bit of red onion as well for some colour. 

Cook your pasta first. Where it says that the flowers cook quickly, that ain't no lie. I put them in with the pasta at the "stir it in" stage, and they were were fine.

Oh, and wash your courgette flowers really well. Two of mine had a veritable eco-system operating inside of them, and I basically turned on the tap on full and blasted the little buggers off.

Overall, it was a pleasant light supper. It might benefit from some spring onion, or a sun-dried tomato or five, to add a bit of flavour. It was also lacking in any kind of protein, which bothers me (as a manly man), so maybe a handful of pine nuts or some veggie bacon would solve that problem.

Linguistic Notes
For a first attempt, I think that went well. I don't speak any Italian other than sono vegano, so this was a gentle challenge. It's rather like French, once you get over the difference in how they are spelt. 

I knew a lot of it was written in the past tense, because it's similar to the Spanish past tense, and while I can't really speak any Spanish either, I know what it looks like. 

The biggest problem with Italian is the spelling. Once you have it cracked, it all starts to unravel. Che is pronounced /ke/, not /tʃe/ as I think is the obvious pronunciation for an Englander. This is similar in pronunciation to Spanish que, which has the same meaning of that or which. -ci- is pronounced /tʃ/, wheras -(c)chi- is /ki, with the h acting as a 'separator' between the consonant and the vowel, preventing the change from /k/ to /tʃ/. This is like the linking u in Spanish, (cf cecear /θeθear/, cuece /kueθe/). Likewise, -(g)gi- is /dʒ/, with -gghi- is /gi/.

Piú means more, which is fairly transparently related to plus. Likewise, fiori being related to flora makes a lot of sense, so at some point during the transition from Latin to Italian, consonant-L-vowel became consonant-I-vowel. Piazza and plaza are another obvious pair.

Ho verb-to seems to mean I verb-ed, with io ho verb-to as a variation. I'm guessing io means I, as it looks related to Spanish yo. Like Spanish, this seems optional. 

i, le, il all seem to mean the. I'm guessing it's a singular-plural thing like French le, les. i is only seen before fiore, which I'm guessing to be the plural of fiora, so I'm going to take a leap and say that that is the feminine plural. *checks* wrong! It's just fiore, which is masculine (cf French le fleur), so i fiore is masculine plural. il is singular masculine the. And le spezie  is plural of la spezia, which is feminine.

il fiore - i fiore
la spezia - le spezie

vi seems to mean you - vi piacciono means "you like" or "delights you". In le spezie che vi piacciono and latte di soia se vi piace, there is a different verb ending. Spices is plural, so piacciono is probably a plural verb, meaning that vi is likely to be a reflexive or the object. Piace is logically the singular, as soy milk is a singular noun. 

So far, so easy. I wonder what I'll make next…


  1. Good, however a few points need addressing:
    1. Post the recipe in English at the end without all the language bits, it's kind of hard to keep up if between every few words there's a different sentence. The language bit was interesting though. Just probably hard to cook along to.
    2. OMG sort out the title font and colour.
    Other than that it's great! Also, don't give this one up after a week.

  2. Turmeric is also meant to have anti-alzheimers qualities =]