Zucca Grigliata (Grilled Pumpkin)

Zucca Grigliata (Grilled Pumpkin)

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Calling all the Basic Bitches…

A few weeks ago while appearing on Andy Cohen’s Watch What Happens Live, Martha Stewart said pumpkin spice was for BASIC BITHCES and my heart melted.  Actually to be fair, Andy asked Missy whether she thought pumpkin spice everything was either a)delicious! Or b)for basic bitches.  Martha said something rather dignified like “the latter.” But tant pis! The fact that a word combination to the effect of pumpkin spice and basic bitch wafted somewhere in the general vicinity of the domestic goddess herself was enough to send me into a fit of air kicks. 

Also to be fair, I never actually saw this episode of Watch What Happens Live because I live in Napoli. Although it bears noting that Andy has been a milestone feature in my life for over a decade. And many years ago while I was watching Andy about to give his ‘jackhole of the week award’, I received a late night call from my boss at a certain Office of Legislative Affairs telling me to get to the (expletive) office immediately.  Shortly thereafter Andy informed me that Osama bin Laden had be killed.  I guess Andy Cohen really did have the 411.  I never did figure out who the jackhole of that week was though…..

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But I digress because this is pumpkin week.  At least for me it is. Every year pumpkin season rolls around with both striking predictability and near constant reminders that it is fall and that you had better goddamn celebrate that fact.  In America, that means brass bands and celestial trumpets announcing the arrival of the pumpkin spice latte in August. 

In Italy pumpkin season arrives with significantly less fanfare but perhaps more excitement as little old ladies can be found wielding machetes as they hack giant pumpkins into manageable bite sized pieces.  Those same old ladies nearly chopped me into bite sized pieces when I gavaged them with pumpkin pie several memorable years ago. Had they known what a basic bitch at the time,was I am near certain the moniker would have been immediately applied to me.

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I have never eaten a sweet pumpkin dish that is native to Italy.  However, I have introduced a not insignificant number of Italians to American pumpkin pie.  All have categorically agreed that it is disgusting.  Many of these same Italians think a proper Thanksgiving turkey should be cut into parts before roasting and really would be better prepared cacciatore style.   They also think cranberries are rather beside the point.

And it’s a good thing Thanksgiving is still several weeks off because I have all the more time to play with pumpkin--- savory style and in the Italian manner.  Pumpkin risotto, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin with borlotti beans and my favorite ----simple grilled pumpkin.  So get out your machetes basic bitches, because we’re about to get carving. 

Zucca Grigliata (Grilled Pumpkin) 

Serves 8 as a contorno


  • 1lb fresh pumpkin, peeled and sliced into triangles about 1/8” thick

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive

  • Salt

  • Red pepper flakes

  • Parsley


  1. Place pumpkin slices in a single layer on a large cutting board

  2. Pat dry with a paper towel, removing all excess moisture

  3. Heat a grill pan over medium heat, adding a thin coat of olive oil

  4. Grill pumpkin slices in batches

  5. Place grilled pumpkin in layers on platter

  6. Top each layer with salt, pepper flakes, olive oil, parsley leaves

5 Ways to Serve Grilled Pumpkin

  1. As bruschetta atop whole grain bread, slathered with ricotta

  2. Wrapped in Prosciutto

  3. In layers in a vegetarian lasagna

  4. As a vegetable side dish with a braised chicken thigh

  5. In a ricotta frittata

Grilled pumpkin keeps for one week in a hermetically sealed container in fridge. 

Pollo alla Cacciatore

Pollo alla Cacciatore

Parmigiana Bianca di Zucchine (White Zucchini Parmesan)

Parmigiana Bianca di Zucchine (White Zucchini Parmesan)