OFF THE MENU: Cavatelli with Zucchini, Sausage & Sage

For the last challenge put out by Meeta at What's for Lunch Honey?—her "From My Rasoi" pumpkin event, I turned to a favorite dish from childhood: Japanese-Style Pumpkin with Ground Pork. Though I heartily endorse all manner of messing about and tinkering in the kitchen, this recipe is one of those culinary family heirlooms best followed faithfully—which is what I did, resulting in a nourishing meal that provided comfort and a wonderful sense of continuity with the past.

This time around, for Meeta's sage and zucchini "Monthly Mingle" event, I take a slightly less reverent approach and don my tinkering hat once again. My great Tuscan adventure just days away, my mind naturally wanders toward Italy for inspiration. And Brooklyn. Why Brooklyn? Because that's where one of our favorite Italian restaurants—Frankies Spuntino—is located. Brian and I have stopped going to Frankies since relocating to Queens, but we used to be a couple of the luckiest folks in the city, living just three minutes (two, walking quickly) from the restaurant's front door.

Frankies serves a positively addictive dish featuring their house-made cavatelli with sausage, sage, and brown butter. Since moving out of the neighborhood, I've had to come up with my own rendition to curb those frequent cavatelli cravings. Recently, I tried adding zucchini to the mix—with excellent results. The squash, sliced into half-moons to mimic the shape of the sausage, harmonizes perfectly with the brown butter and other ingredients.

Cavatelli is a type of pasta, often made with ricotta, sold fresh at many Italian delis here in New York. If you can't get hold of any, you can substitute orecchiette or a similar pasta shape. It won't be the same—cavatelli has a chew and texture all its own—but it will still taste good. (And isn't that what really matters?)


3 links Italian sausage
3 small zucchini
3 cloves minced garlic
1 pound fresh cavatelli
12 sage leaves, cut into thin ribbons
6 tablespoons butter
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper

Put water on to boil for the cavatelli. Cook sausages in a covered pan with 1/2 inch water until cooked through, about ten minutes. Cut each sausage in half lengthwise, then slice into 1/2-inch-thick half-moons. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise, then slice into 1/2-inch-thick half-moons. Brown sausage in olive oil, remove from the pan. Brown the zucchini, cooking at fairly high heat so it takes on color but doesn't get mushy. Remove zucchini from the pan. Boil the cavatelli. Meanwhile, add butter to the pan and cool until it begins to brown and smell nutty (take care not to burn it!) Add garlic, sage, and red pepper flakes and stir about thirty seconds. Add sausage and zucchini back to the pan, season with salt and pepper, and mix in the cooked cavatelli. Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Frankies Spuntino
457 Court Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231

Categories: Main Dishes, Off the Menu, Pasta, Pork, Vegetables

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