Sunday, November 7, 2010

Zucchini: Carmela Soprano's stew Googootz Giambotta and Anna Sultana's Minestra tal-Haxix (soup, Maltese Style)

Some vegetables, like potatoes, translate easily.

Carmela would call it a patate.  
Ma would call it a patata.  
Not very different from the English potato. 

Even A. J. could translate it easily.

Then there's the zucchini.  

Pity the zucchini.  If you've always just walked by them in the market, it's a summer squash of bushy growth with smooth cylindrical dark green fruits, which are also called zucchini.  They have a mild flavor and cook well in soups and stews.

Okay... Carmela would call it a googootz and, while she lived in Malta, Ma would call it a marrow.

I don't know why.


In Carmela's Entertaining with The Sopranos, there's a simple recipe for zucchini stew, Googootz Giambotta in the Adult Birthday Parties chapter.  Personally, I don't see it.  Maybe she dished it up for Uncle Junior.  After he shot Tony.

Chop 2 medium onions and cook them in some olive oil.
Finely chop a garlic clove, add it to the onion and fry another minute.
Add
6 plum tomatoes, chopped
4 zucchini, trimmed - cut into bite-sized pieces
2 potatoes, peeled - cut into bite-sized pieces
salt and pepper 
Cover and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add water if it seems dry and before serving stir in
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

If you've never cooked with zucchini, trimmed means cut off the tips.  They are a bit nasty.  


Zucchini was a staple in Ma's kitchen.  I don't  know when she wised up, but she called them zucchini for as long as I can remember.  Pop grew them and Ma cooked them.  

When they were young and small - the zucchini - Ma would cook them in soups and stews.  When it got later in the season and Pop found a zucchini the size of a baseball bat, Ma would slice it in half, simmer it, scoop out the middle, mix it with crumbs and eggs, stuff the shell and bake it.

You never find the baseball bat sized one in the market.

Here's one of Ma's recipes Minestra tal-Haxix.
Wonderful, it uses some of the Halloween pumpkin!!

Chop and place in a large pot
2 zucchini
4 potatoes
2 onions
about a pound of pumpkin
1 small cabbage
1 small caulifower
2 turnips
2 tomatoes
2 carrots
-----
Add 
3 cups water
1 teaspoon tomato paste
salt, pepper, oregano or basil - suit yourself
Bring to a boil, then let simmer 30 minutes
-----
Add 
2 tablespoons lard or butter or oil - your choice
1/2 pound small pasta
Simmer until the pasta is done
Serve with Parmesan or Romano cheese

If you've just won the lottery and want some meat in there, 
leave out the pasta and add with the vegetables
2 pounds pork - cut into bite-sized pieces 
1 pound Italian sausages - cut into bite-sized pieces
or less if the winnings weren't that great


Would I make Googootz Giambotta again?  
No, it seems to be missing a lot.  A whole lot.
I sure wouldn't serve it to a birthday boy or girl.
Well, maybe if he'd shot my huband.

Would I make Minestra tal-Haxix?
Absolutely.
It's a meal in itself.


Another recipe down.  Thirty-eight more to go.

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