This dish, which is our take on a traditional Italian primavera, was a hugely popular item back in the day
at Cafe Bella—so much so that years later, when I was developing a menu for Usain Bolt’s Tracks and
Records, we rebirthed and revamped a version of it as Ital Penne with Pumpkin Rundown. At Cafe Bella,
we used spinach fettuccini; feel free to use any pasta you like.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 bunch scallions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and
1⁄4 Scotch bonnet, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1⁄2 red pepper, sliced
1⁄2 very ripe plantain, peeled and cut
1 cup peeled calabaza pumpkin, cut
1 cho cho (chayote), peeled and cut
into matchsticks (about 1 cup)
1⁄2 cup French beans (local string beans), trimmed
1⁄4 cup Jamaican brandy or sherry
11⁄2 cups heavy cream
11⁄2 (14-ounce) cans coconut milk
1/4 to 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
cheese, to taste
_ 1 pound spinach fettuccine pasta
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1Warm the oil and butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. When
the butter is melted, add the scallions, garlic, ginger, Scotch bonnet, thyme
and red pepper. Add the plantain and saute for about 3 minutes. Add the
pumpkin, cho cho and French beans. Add the brandy and cook until
evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the heavy cream and reduce for
1 to 2 minutes, then add the coconut milk and cook until thickened. Stir
in the Parmesan and set aside.
2 Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente according to the
package directions. Drain and toss immediately with the vegetable mixture
in the saucepan. Season again with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
For extra kick-ass flavor, add ½ cup chopped
bacon in step 1, along with the onions and
peppers, and cook until crispy.
If you are not serving this pasta (or any of our other pasta
dishes) immediately, but want to be as ready as possible in
advance, you can blanch the pasta then transfer it to an
ice-water bath to shock it; this stops the cooking process.
Toss the pasta with a little vegetable oil and hold covered
until ready to use. Make sure to slightly undercook the pasta,
because when you add it back to the pan with the sauce, it will
continue to cook!