“Cappellacci di Zucca Ferraresi” were mentioned for the first time in recipe books dating back to the Renaissance period when these delicacies were prepared for members of the Este family. The cappellacci (know as caplaz in the local dialect) were referred to as “tortelli di zucca con il butirro” or pumpkin tortelli with butter.
The ingredients today are exactly the same as all that time ago except perhaps for the fact that cooks used to add spices like ginger or pepper that were in common use at that time but are not so popular nowadays.
Tradition would have it that the word in dialect (caplaz) comes from their vague resemblance to the shape of straw hats worn by local peasants.
The pumpkin normally used for cappellacci is violin-shaped and takes its name from its resemblance to the musical instrument. In the past, these vegetables were also used as water and wine gourds or for holding gunpowder. When the pumpkin has been baked in the oven or steamed, Reggiano or Grana Padano Parmesan cheese is added along with salt, pepper and nutmeg. The filling is then ready to be wrapped in a hand-made pasta “tortello”.
This dish is currently awaiting IGP certification (Identificazione Geografica Protetta).