I’ve spent the weekend in quiet reflection after Friday’s tragedy. It feels odd to write a blog post about pasta as I watch our President talking to the citizens of Newtown, Connecticut. But after reflection, after sadness, and after deep thought comes the act of normalizing…of moving on with life because that’s the only thing there is to do. And just because we move on doesn’t mean that the tragedy means any less, or that anyone forgot. It just means we are protecting our own life by keeping busy with everyday tasks, like this one.
And so we move on to butternut squash pasta, a heart-warming fall recipe that will warm your belly while you warm your heart.
What is so excellent about this recipe, adapted from Big Girls Small Kitchen , is that it turns a vegetable into a sauce. We turn tomatoes into sauces all the time, but squash? Never thought it was possible. But it is, and when topped with pancetta, all is right with the world.
by Every Little Thing
Keywords: sauté steam entree side Italian fall winter
Ingredients (serves 4)
Using a steamer basket, bring just an inch of water to boil in a large stockpot, then steam butternut squash in the basket for 8-12 minutes, until very tender. Remove basket and cool squash, then mash with potato masher or spoon.
Fill up the pot with water for the pasta and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, 8-10 minutes. When done, drain (RESERVE 1/2 CUP PASTA WATER!) and toss with a tiny amount of butter to prevent sticking.
In a medium frying pan, sauté the pancetta until brown and crispy, 8-10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, move pancetta to a plate lined with paper towel to drain, reserving the grease left behind. In that grease over medium low heat, add the shallot and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the cayenne, nutmeg, and salt and stir.
Add the milk and mashed squash to the pan, stirring to smooth. Bring to a simmer over medium heat until reduced, 10-12 minutes.
When the sauce is reduced and the pasta done, add the pasta to the simmering sauce, spooning in reserved water if needed to thin the sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Divide between four bowls, sprinkle with the Parmesan and pancetta, and serve.
The key here is to cook the shallot and garlic, which make up the base of the sauce, in the grease left behind by the pancetta. It provides an earthy depth to the pasta that might be a little bland otherwise. The salty Parmesan completes the meal.
Vegetarian? Omit the pancetta and use oil or butter. Vegan? Simple use a dairy-free alternative to the milk and omit the Parmesan. But honestly? This recipe is best left intact, pancetta and all.
P.S. This is the first post featuring photos from my new camera (Canon t3i with 18-135mm lens). I’m still playing with all the features and settings but I already love the increased photo quality!