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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Squash Pasta: An Autumn Delight


This is the time of year that our gardens and grocery stores are displaying a bounty of winter squash. Acorn. Butternut. Pumpkin. Spaghetti. And heirloom varieties of all kinds.

Our solution to this wealth of Cucurbita maxima from Central America used to be the tried and true Baked Squash with Butter and Maple Syrup. We got tired of it and, frankly, never like it THAT much. Last week we gave you a wonderful recipe for Pumpkin Soup.

Here's an idea that Tim's brother Ron picked up at a cooking class. It sounds weird, and looks a little boring. But it is very complex and works as either a vegetarian main dish or as a main if you add shredded poulty: Pasta with Squash Sauce.

Cut a large (3 lbs.) squash of any winter variety in half lengthwise, spoon out the seeds and bake cut side down in a 350-degree oven with a sprig of Thyme and a clove of garlic underneath and a drizzle of olive oil over the top. Test for doneness by spearing with a knife. It might take about 30-45 minutes depending upon the size and shape of the squash.

Spoon the squash meat and the garlic cloves into a food processor (remove the thyme sprigs). Add 3/4 cup of vegetable stock (you could use chicken stock), 2 Tablespoons of cream, a teaspoon of curry powder, a teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves (1/3 teaspoon of dried) a half-teaspoon of dried pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste. You don't need much pepper, but you should start with a teaspoon of salt, and you can adjust again later if it's not enough.

Meanwhile, cook 1 lb. pasta (we used linguini) in boiling water. Drain the pasta and immediately mix in the squash sauce. (Taste the sauce again for salt, curry and pepper flakes before mixing.) Top with shredded chicken, if you're inclined. Either way, garnish with some thyme leaves and sprigs and parmesan cheese.

Serve with more grated parmesan at the table.

The curry and faint hint of heat from the pepper flakes give the otherwise mono-tasting squash a depth and complexity that is very fulfilling.

This recipe would taste great with a crisp and un-oakey Chardonnay, but we served it with a Zinfandel from the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma, which nicely complemented the spice in the dish.

2 comments:

  1. What a great autumn dish! Inspiring me to try this.

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  2. These look so elegant and sound fabulous.Yum!

    ReplyDelete