Cime di zucchine are such a peculiar vegetable that is not easy to explain what they actually are. You can find people selling them in every Apulian corner, but if you step outside this area, people will look at you as an alien if you ask for cime di zucchine. A literal translation could be zucchini tops, but it is misleading, as you all would think of the zucchini fruit. What I am actually talking about is its plant. (Click here to see an image.)

Tommaso really loves them so when he’s about to come back home, the Great Mother greets the event buying, quite early in the morning because they have to be freshly picked, tons of cime di zucchine.

So with a great deal of patience and surgical precision, we sit around the kitchen table and start removing the outer leaves (inedible parts).

Last time, by the way, something went differently. The great mother admitted she has never really appreciated pasta with cime di zucchini, they don’t blend together she said, so while I was still cutting the cime lengthwise, she prepared a pesto.

Here’s what she did.

She blended some basil, a handful of peeled almonds and one of pine nuts, one garlic clove and two little zucchini until finely chopped. She added some extra virgin olive oil, seasoned with salt and processed for few minutes. No scale, she went by eye. So if you want to repeat this recipe you have to be prepared to taste and adjust.

Once you have prepared this pesto-like sauce, here’s what you have to do next.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt and add the cime di zucchine. They won’t take too long, they’re usually quite tender, so 6-7 minutes are enough. Drain the cime and cook the pasta in the same water. Last time we chose thick whole spaghetti. Cook al dente, following the recommendations on the package. Drain it, toss with the pesto and the cime and serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

 

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