The Holy Squash

By Giuliano and Lael Hazan

Published on December 2, 2009

Zucca barucca, zucca barucca, sang our youngest daughter over and over again when first heard the name. Zucca barucca (or for those that are scientifically inclined, cucurbita maxima) is a large squash with orange meat that looks like a flattened pumpkin but tastes as rich and sweet as butternut squash. It is common to find it in the fall markets of the Veneto region of Italy. Fall and winter are wonderful times for squash, and to us, it is a comfort food.

Squash didn't actually play a large part in Italian cuisine until the 20th century. It was considered common food and not fit for the "noble" classes. Boy, were those nobles missing something. Some say barucca is a play on the Italian word verruca, which means wart, while others say it is from the Hebrew word baruch, meaning holy. Personally, we like that Italians would name zucca barruca the holy squash. Zucca barucca is not yet available in the States, but butternut squash works just as beautifully in this succulent sauce for fusilli.

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