Recipes and Ramblings in Italy

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Recipe of the Week (September 22, 2014)

Posted by William Abruzzo on September 22, 2014 at 6:55 PM


Pasta con Tenerumi (Pasta with Sautéed Cucuzza Tendrils & Cherry Tomatoes)



        This week's recipe takes us to the region of Sicily, where cucuzza squash grow on trellises and arbors in back yard gardens.  The long slender squash are native to Sicily and the regions south of Naples. The leaves and tendrils of this unusual squash are tender and delicious.  When sautéed with cherry tomatoes and tossed with pasta, you have a meal that would make any Sicilian proud.  Add some diced prosciutto or crushed red chili flakes for extra bold flavor. And, be sure to top it off with fresh grated ricotta salata cheese! 



Pasta 1 lb

Prosciutto 4 ounces (diced)

Olive Oil to saute

Cucuzza Tendrils & Leaves 1 large bowl (about 2 lbs)

Cherry Tomatoes 1 dry quart

Garlic 4 cloves

Black Pepper to taste

Salt to taste

Crushed Red Pepper to taste (optional)

Ricotta Salata for topping


        Use the top 2 inches of the tendrils and the small leaves that are no more than 2 inches in diameter. Chop the greens and boil them in lightly salted water for 10 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, set the pasta to boil in lightly salted water. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half and dice the prosciutto and garlic. Coat the bottom of a six quart frying pan generously with olive oil, set it on a low burner, add the prosciutto and garlic, and saute until the garlic is soft. Then, add the cherry tomatoes, season with salt and spices, and continue sauteeing until the skins on the cherry tomatoes pucker and they release some of their juices. When the greens are tender, strain them and add them to the frying pan. When the pasta is done, add it to the frying pan and toss well. Serve hot, topped with plenty of ricotta salata cheese.


Categories: Pasta and Risotto

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Private Cooking Classes

Cooking Classes

I offer private cooking classes for up to six people. Cooking classes are held in my home on Saturday evenings. I specialize in all aspects of Italian regional cuisine, including soups, vegetables, pasta, risotto, meat, seafood and desserts. I will design a cooking class around whatever interests you –whether it is a specific recipe you wish to learn or a skill such as pasta-making. For more details, please take a minute to become a member of my website and contact me via internal email at . 

Bill's Cooking Tip of the Month

Roll Out Pie Dough with Ease Using Plastic Wrap

This is an old trick I learned years ago from my mother. The next time you bake a pie, roll out the dough between sheets of plastic wrap. This will prevent the dough from sticking to your rolling pin and will make it easier to transport the dough from your work surface to the pie dish or baking sheet.

Cover your entire work surface with plastic wrap and sprinkle it lightly with flour. Turn the dough onto the wrap, pat it down to 1 inch thickness, sprinkle it lightly with flour, and then cover it with a second layer of wrap. Roll out the dough to just less than ¼ inch thickness and remove the top layer of wrap. Lift the dough using the bottom layer of wrap, turn it on to a lightly greased pie dish or baking sheet, and then remove the wrap. Its quick and easy! 

Tips on Italian Ingredients

 Frying Tomato Paste Enhances the Flavor and Adds Depth to Your Dish

Many recipes direct you to stir tomato paste into a sauce, soup or stew. However, frying the tomato paste first fully develops its flavor and eliminates any raw or metallic taste. It is a quick and easy way to enhance the flavor of your dish. Tomato paste should always be added at the beginning of a recipe, rather than at the end. This allows its flavor to marry with the dish. Add it immediately after sautéing your aromatics in olive oil or rendered fat. When the aromatics are soft, push them to one side of your pot or frying pan. Place a dollop of tomato paste on the other side, tilt the pot or frying pan to pool the oil around the tomato paste, and let it gently sizzle for about 2 minutes.  After the tomato paste has fried, incorporate it into the aromatics and then add the liquid and other ingredients to complete your sauce, soup or stew. 

Just Picked From My Italian Vegetable Garden!

 Zucchini Blossoms 

My Italian Heritage

 My Great Grandparents, Vita and Onofrio Abruzzo, from the town of Santa Margherita di Belice, Sicily pictured here with my grandfather Vito "Bill" in the center.

Great reads for the Italophile!

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