Mashed Zucchini

Original: Calabazas Espesas con Caldo de Carne

Take gourds, and scrape them very well so that they become very white and clean. And then cut them into very long thin slices; and take good fatty bacon, and a piece of mutton together with the bacon, and when everything is very well melted, strain it through a sieve and cast it in the pot where the gourds must cook with the fatty bacon,
and stir it constantly with a stick; and cast in an onion, and gently fry it with the gourds; and when they are gently fried, take good kidney suet of a sheep, and set it to cook separately with a pair or two of squabs; and you will make good broth which is well-salted; and when the broth is made, little by little cast it upon the gourds, and always take the fattiest [broth]; and when the gourds are well-cooked, and quite mushy, take almond milk or milk of goats or sheep – but the almond milk is never lacking – and cast the milk in the pot; and when the milk is cooked with the gourds, turn them about with a haravillo in such a manner that not even the smallest piece of gourd remains undissolved; and cast good cheese of Aragon which is grated and very fine, in with the gourds; and when this is done take two egg yolks for each dish, well-beaten with verjuice, then mix them with the gourds; then make [them] in such a manner that they taste a little of verjuice; and then prepare dishes, and cast upon them sugar and cinnamon.
Source: An English Translation of Ruperto de Nola’s “Libre del Coch” (1529) by Lady Brighid ni Chiarain.


2-3 lbs zucchini
1 medium white onion
Olive oil
1 scant cup of broth (we used vegetable)
½ – ¾ c almond milk
½ c shredded parmesan cheese
2 egg yolks
2-3 T red wine vinegar
Cinnamon & sugar
  1. Peel zucchini, slice into long strips; dice onion; sauté vegetables in oil. When softish, add a scant cup of broth and continue to cook over medium-medium high heat until vegetables are mushy.
  2. Add ½ c almond milk and begin to smash vegetables with a wooden spoon or potato masher; add additional almond milk to thin if necessary.
  3. Add cheese, egg yolks, and vinegar; cook further to reduce slightly and make sure you are not serving raw egg.
  4. Place in serving dish, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

Notes and Choices

We spent a lot of time trying to decide what kind of gourds would have been used; it’s not surprising that Spain as one of the first countries to have contact with the new world would have had edible gourds, but that’s a broad category. Our research suggests that the first gourds brought from the New World were ornamental and not edible; it seems like the gourd ‘marrow’ was the most commonly eaten in Europe during period; this is pretty closely related to zucchini, which is more widely (and cheaply) available, so we used that.

Also, it seems no one is really sure what exactly a haravillo was – but it seems pretty clear that you use it to mash vegetables. A potato masher or similar seems quite likely – if you have this available, you don’t need to chop the zucchini as finely. If you only have a wooden spoon, chop your zucchini a little smaller and you should have no trouble.

We removed the bacon, mutton and kidney suet in order to make this dish palatable to our vegetarian guests. We think you’ll agree that the end result is still very tasty!

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