Here's the plan: take one large butternut squash, and roast it as I describe. Puree the roasted, autumnal goodness and use half for my Stuffed Pumpkin Pastina. With a green salad and a some grilled sausages, you've got the perfect Halloween supper.
For a printable version of each recipe, click on the file below it.
Roasted Butternut Squash Puree
Please be sure that the squash is very soft before you puree it, or else it will not have the smooth texture you're after.
You could use other winter squash, of course. Since butternut squash is the easiest to peel, that's what I tend to go for.
These recipes were adapted from Michael Chiarello's The Tra Vigne Cookbook, in which he calls dishes like this a "food hug".
- 1 large butternut squash, or other winter squash, about 3 pounds
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 Tablespoons butter
- 2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Peel the squash with a vegetable peeler, cut in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds and flesh. Cut into 1 inch dice.
- Place the diced squash into a large bowl, and sprinkle with salt and pepper (I used 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt and 3 turns of the pepper grinder).
- Heat the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. After the butter melts and then foams and turns a light brown, turn off the heat.
- Add the sugar, sage, vinegar, and molasses. Stand back...it could splatter. Or wear some ski goggles, if you can find yours.
- Pour the vinegar mixture over the squash and mix well.
- Place the squash on a rimmed baking sheet large enough to hold it in a single layer.
- Roast until very tender, about 1 hour.
- Set aside to cool slightly, then puree the squash and its cooking liquids in a food processor or blender until very smooth.
The original recipe called for using 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream. I found the recipe was just as good using whole milk, or a combination of lowfat milk and half and half.
Semolina flour makes this polenta especially soft and creamy. If you don't have any, just use more polenta as I have noted.
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk or half and half
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- Pinch of ground white pepper
- 5 Tablespoons of polenta (such as Bob's Red Mill corn grits)
- 5 Tablespoons of semolina flour or use an additional 5 Tablespoons of polenta
- 1 cup roasted butternut squash puree (see recipe above)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- white truffle oil, for drizzling, optional
- Combine the chicken broth and milk or half and half in a heavy saucepan and bring to a simmer.
- Add the nutmeg, salt and pepper.
- Whisk in the polenta and semolina and cook over very low heat, whisking regularly, until the grains are soft, about 8 minutes.
- Add the butternut squash puree, and mix well.
- Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the Parmesan cheese.
- Drizzle with white truffle oil, if you are lucky enough to have some.
Pumpkin Pastina served in a Pumpkin
If you've ever made risotto, you'll find this method of making pasta similar, but faster. Just keep adding broth until the pasta is al dente; the amount will vary depending on the type of pasta you choose.
- 1 medium pumpkin
- 4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 2 for oiling the pumpkin and 2 for the pasta
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 cups chicken broth, or more
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
- 3/4 pound dried pastina or other small pasta shape, such as orzo
- 1 cup roasted butternut squash puree (recipe above)
- 1 cup shredded fresh spinach or Swiss chard, optional
- 1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cut the lid off the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds and fibers. Scrape away some of the flesh, especially around the top to form a smooth inner cavity.
- Oil the pumpkin inside and out, and season with salt and pepper.
- Replace the lid, and bake on a rimmed baking sheet for about 40 minutes. Make sure it is not getting too soft; it needs to serve as your bowl.
- While the pumpkin is baking, bring the chicken broth to a boil in a large saucepan.
- Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat, and add the remaining 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is shimmering, add the onion and cook until soft but not brown, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the thyme to the onion, and then add 2 cups of the hot chicken broth. Bring to a boil.
- Add the pastina, and reduce to heat to a low simmer. Add the remainder of the chicken broth, 1/2 cup at a time, as the pasta cooks, to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. It should be al dent is about 15 minutes.
- When the pasta is done, add the squash puree, the turkey, and the greens, if using. Add more stock if necessary to give it a loose consistency. Add the Parmesan cheese and stir well. Season with salt and pepper, and scoop into your big roasted pumpkin bowl just before serving. Expect smiles.
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