Chitarra Alla Zucca or Pumpkin Spaghetti Sauce

Chitarra alla zucca which is a pumpkin spaghetti sauce, is a quick, easy, and tasty Italian pasta recipe that combines spaghetti with creamy pumpkin sauce – perfect on a chilly fall evening.

As the weather cools down and we start thinking about yummy fall recipes, what could be better than putting pumpkin to good use?

I love to make quick and easy meals for my family that are also delicious and nourishing – and this Italian pumpkin pasta dish ticks all the boxes! Have a look at the ingredients – you probably already have most of them:


  • 1 pound spaghetti (approx 500g)
    • You can use any variety of pasta that you have in your pantry: penne, fusilli, linguine, fettuccine, etc
  • 1 cup pumpkin (approx 10oz or 300g)
  • 1 cup napoli* sauce (approx 10oz or 300ml)
  • 1/2 cup cream (approx 5 ounces or 150ml)
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine (approx 3oz or 100ml)
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (approx 30ml)
  • pinch salt
  • pinch dry chilli flakes

They’re pretty basic ingredients, aren’t they? I usually have most of them in my pantry and/ or refrigerator, so it makes whipping up a quick dinner very easy.

What is Chitarra Alla Zucca?

It’s an Italian dish that roughly translates into English to mean ‘pumpkin guitar’! It seemed strangely named to me, until I did some Googling and discovered that the chitarra is a traditional Italian method for cutting fresh pasta into strips.

The chitarra is a small wooden box frame that is strung with a dozen or so strings of wire. The pasta sheets are laid on top of the wires, then a rolling pin is used to press the sheets through the strings, effectively cutting the pasta sheets into ribbons. So clever!

But I don’t have time for that – I just buy packages of pasta! I really do try to make life as simple as possible for myself – while still maintaining nutritional integrity (where possible!). Have a look at the directions – they are fairly straightforward:

grated pumpkin
grated pumpkin


  • In a large pot of salted and boiling water, add the spaghetti and cook to the package instructions (probably about 12 minutes of rapid boiling).
  • In a pan, heat the olive oil (just hot – not smoking!).
  • Add the pumpkin, salt, and chilli then stir continuously so that the pumpkin doesn’t color.
  • When the pumpkin has softened, add the white wine (this helps to soften the pumpkin and reduce the oiliness).
  • Add the napoli sauce and stir in well.
  • Now add the cream and stir.
  • Taste and decide if you need to season with extra salt, or maybe a pinch of pepper.
  • When the pasta is cooked, drain it well.
  • When the pumpkin sauce has finished, add the pasta to the sauce and combine well.
  • Serve immediately, garnishing with grated parmesan cheese.

And it really is just as simple as that! You know that I love to squeeze in extra vegetables when I’m feeding my family, so if you’d like some suggestions, please see the ‘variations’ heading below the recipe card.


pumpkin spaghetti sauce served on plates

Chitarra Alla Zucca

This is a quick, easy, and tasty Italian pasta recipe combining spaghetti with a creamy pumpkin sauce.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4
Calories 218 kcal


  • Large skillet/ frypan


  • 1 pound spaghetti (or any pasta you like, eg fusili, penne, etc) (approx 500g)
  • 10 ounces pumpkin, diced (approx 1 cup or 300g)
  • 10 ounces napoli sauce* (approx 1 cup or 300ml)
  • 5 ounces cream (approx ½ cup or 150ml)
  • 3 ounces dry white wine (approx ⅓ cup or 100ml)
  • ounces parmesan cheese, grated (approx 50g)
  • 1 ounce olive oil (approx 30ml)
  • pinch salt
  • pinch dry chilli flakes


  • In a large skillet, heat the olive oil (not too hot!).
  • Add the pumpkin, salt and chilli, stir continuously so pumpkin does not colour.
  • When the pumpkin has softened, add the white wine (this helps to soften the pumpkin and reduce the oiliness).
  • Add the napoli sauce and stir in well.  Then add the cream and stir in well.
  • Taste for seasoning.
  • Stir the spaghetti (or other pasta) through the sauce.
  • Serve immediately while hot, and garnish with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.


* Napoli sauce is sometimes called Neapolitan or Napoletana – it’s really just an Italian tomato-based sauce for pasta, often used in pasta dishes.
Keyword chitarra alla zucca


I’m sure you know me well enough by now to know that I love to give you some ideas about how you can personalize my recipes so that they suit you and your family. I’ve got several suggestions for this recipe…

  • I love to try to get as many vegetables into my family as I can, so I like to grate or finely slice a zucchini when I’m making this recipe. I suggest adding it in with the pumpkin right at the beginning.
  • If you enjoy garlic as much as I do, add a clove of crushed garlic in with the pumpkin so that it has a chance to soften and release its garlicky goodness throughout the dish.
  • You could add 1 cup of corn kernels to the mixture.
  • For a burst of green, add 1 cup dried or frozen peas to the mixture.
  • Add a small handful of lightly toasted pine nuts to the top of the dish just prior to serving.

I’d love to know you go making this tasty pumpkin spaghetti sauce. If you have any suggestions or feedback, please leave me a note in the comments section below.

Until next time…
Love & all things Italian, Bella X

1 thought on “Chitarra Alla Zucca or Pumpkin Spaghetti Sauce”

  1. 5 stars
    Really easy – just like you said. Really appreciate a recipe that is exactly what it says it is. Thankyou.


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