Goats in our house could end up anywhere. My mother used to mix them with some soft herbs and olive oil to make a kind of rough salsa verde and spoon over fried or roasted cauliflower. She also introduced them to German-style potato salads, with onion, mustard and broth. My father fried the goats and served them with asparagus, or he used them for his involtini: thin slices of veal that he wrapped around a stuffing of breadcrumbs, goats and herbs, burnt and cooked in a white wine sauce. The goats with fried pumpkin were served together with a sliced ​​meatball or meatballs.

I love all these applications for goats, but it is this last combination with pumpkin that I find most seductive. Keeping with our family tradition of messing with family tradition, I often use it in pastas and pasta salads, a use that never occurred to my grandmother or my father.

I find that fried pumpkin, with the addition of earthy capers, makes a wonderful base for pasta, as long as there’s something creamy and rich to contrast with the sourness. Usually, I make my pasta very cheesy, using buffalo mozzarella or a nice pile of grated pecorino melted through a sauce, to give the slightly pickled zucchini a chance to shine.

In my version here, however, there is no cheese and no meat. The rich creaminess comes from slow-cooking more pumpkin, first for five minutes in olive oil, then together with the dried pasta and water, for a wonderfully starchy sauce that coats everything in a thick sheen. The fried zucchini and capers, which are added after everything is cooked, break this up, bringing extra texture and fresh acidity.

To me, this all makes perfect sense as the next stage in the evolution of my grandmother’s fried pumpkin. Perhaps, with a bit of selective memory and the breaking of a few little rules, I managed to create a new family tradition.

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