Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Spicy Winter Squash with Penne



I see so many wonderful winter squash recipes out there, from risottos to soups, emphasizing the natural sweetness of winter squash. But let me share with you a new winter squash recipe that balances the sweet qualities of winter squash with spice and savory notes. 

It might sound weird to add butternut squash to pasta, but you love ravioli filled with butternut squash don't you? And you add zucchini to pasta, right? So of course it makes sense to try spicy winter squash pasta.

What works about this recipe is that the spicy crushed red pepper, earthy red onions, fragrant garlic and thyme, and salty pecorino balance the natural sweetness of winter squash. And the result is a deliciously satisfying dish that is a welcome change in the dead of winter.

I used red kuri squash from my CSA (Farm Fresh to You), which kind of looks like a pumpkin, in this dish but butternut squash would work equally well.


I began by quickly peeling and dicing the winter squash. The trick is to peeling a hard winter squash is to use a really good vegetable peeler. Once your squash is free of its tough skin, halve it, and grab a spoon to scoop out the seeds and the stringy mess inside.


Next dice the squash into 1/2" cubes. You are probably used to roasting winter squash in the oven, but this time you are going to try a different technique- pan roasting winter squash. Chop up some red onion and garlic into thin slices. Heat olive oil in a large skillet and toss in the sliced red onions, cooking until soft. Add the thinly sliced garlic and crushed red pepper, stirring until fragrant but not browned. Stir in the diced winter squash and some fresh thyme; let it all cook for a few minutes over moderately high heat. Season well with sea salt and pepper. Then cover the skillet and cook over low heat, until the squash becomes tender.


Meanwhile you want to bring a pot of water to a boil, and once boiling, add salt and the pasta, cooking until al dente. This is important, you want to reserve about a cup of the pasta cooking water before draining the pasta. When you add the pasta to the skillet with the squash you will also add some of the pasta cooking water. Toss in some freshly grated pecorino or parmesan. As you stir it all together, the pasta cooking water will work its magic, melding everything together into a fabulous, light, and spicy sauce. Serve immediately, passing extra pecorino or parmesan at the table.

The spicy red kuri pasta was a huge, huge hit in my house. And the leftovers made for a great lunch to take to work the next day!




Spicy Winter Squash with Penne
2 cups winter squash (butternut, red kuri, etc), peeled, seeds removed, and cut into a 1/2" dice
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2-3 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 sprig fresh thyme
1.5 tbsp olive oil
sea salt
pepper
1/4 cup pecorino or parmesan, plus more for serving
1/3 lb penne

Use a good vegetable peeler to peel the winter squash. Use a large knife to carefully halve the squash and then scoop out the seeds and the stringy mess inside with a spoon. Then dice the squash into 1/2" pieces.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet and toss in the sliced red onions, cooking until soft. Add the thinly sliced garlic and crushed red pepper, stirring until fragrant but not browned. Stir in the diced winter squash and some fresh thyme; let it all cook for a few minutes over moderately high heat. Season well with sea salt and pepper. Then cover the skillet and cook over low heat, until the squash becomes tender, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

Meanwhile bring a large pot of water to a boil, and once boiling, add salt and the pasta, cooking until just before al dente. This is important, you want to reserve about a cup of the pasta cooking water before draining the pasta.

Once the squash is cooked tender, add the pasta along with 1/4 cup of reserved pasta water. Stir to combine. Toss in some freshly grated pecorino or parmesan. Add more pasta water as needed to create a loose sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Continue to toss over low heat until sauce is well incorporated. Serve immediately, passing extra pecorino or parmesan at the table.

3 comments:

  1. Very creative! By the way, those squash seeds also look very good :)

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    Replies
    1. The seeds are even better toasted and tossed with olive oil, smoked paprika, cumin, and salt! Super addictive and delicious!

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  2. Yum! I adore winter squashes and I'm always looking for different recipes to try. Thank you for sharing...and thank you for all the support. It means more to me than you know. Hugs and love from Austin.

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