Giuseppe’s mom made us pasta con pancetta e zucchini during our visit to Calabria in 2019. Although we visit 1-2 times per year we don’t usually repeat recipes. Some exceptions for repeat recipes are seppie fritte (fried cuttlefish), parmigiana, pizza, and patate e peperoni (duh). She absolutely loves to cook and if we’re being honest she does most of the cooking during our visits. Which is not only delicious but incredibly helpful considering we work 14 hours per day during harvest. It’s always a treat to come back during lunch or dinner and be able to enjoy a comforting plate of pasta con pancetta e zucchine.
Calabria has hundreds of miles of coastline so naturally seafood is on the menu several times per week. However, Calabrians also eat a ton of pork and zucchini. The region has an extensive mountainous terrain creating an ideal climate for certain livestock and vegetables. So although Giuseppe’s mom’s specialties are seafood, parmigiana, potatoes, and mushrooms she enjoys (and is well versed) in making dishes like pasta con pancetta e zucchini.
Regardless of the why, we are happy to be able to recreate this dish in the U.S. because you really only need a handful of ingredients: pancetta (or bacon), zucchini, and pasta (optional parmigiano reggiano). We know it’s difficult to get pancetta (and guanciale) in the U.S. so it’s okay to substitute with bacon. Let’s get cooking!
Pasta con Pancetta e Zucchine Recipe (Pasta with Pancetta and Zucchini)
EXAU Olive Oil
2 tbsp coarse sea salt
- freshly cracked black pepper
135 grams (0.3lb) pancetta or guanciale (or 4 slices thick cut Bacon)
- 2 large zucchini (8 inch)
- 350 grams (0.75lb) spaghetti
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano (optional)
Fill a medium large pot with water, and bring to a boil. Add salt until water tastes seasoned.
Cut pancetta into 1/4″ wide strips.
- Cut zucchini in half length wise then into 1/4″ pieces.
Heat a medium large saute pan, add pancetta, cover and cook on medium-low heat until fat has ‘melted’ (approx. 15-20 mins). Pancetta should be brown but still soft and chewy when done cooking.
With a large slotted spoon remove the pancetta from the pan and set aside. Leave the fat in the pan.
Add the zucchini. Cover and cook on medium heat until the zucchini has fallen apart. About 20 minutes.
Add the pancetta back to the zucchini, stir, and remove from heat.
Add pasta to water, stirring every 2 minutes. Cook pasta 2-3 minutes before ‘al dente’. Reserve 1 ½ cups pasta water.
- Finely grate (optional) parmigiano reggiano.
Once pasta is done cooking, place the zucchini and pancetta mixture onto medium heat. Quickly strain pasta and add to pan. Turn heat up to high and continue stirring. If pasta appears to get ‘dry’ add a little pasta water. Cook for additional 2-3 minutes until everything has combined.
- Add cheese. Turn off heat and continue to stir until cheese is completely combined.
- Plate immediately. Finish with 1 tsp of olive oil or more parmigiana reggiano. Enjoy!