Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sunday Night at Home: Campanelle with Winter Squash, Pancetta and Sage

I love the way a winter squash smells when you cut it open.  It smells like trees and the first crisp, cool air of autumn.  I start collecting them this time of year.  Sometimes I have more than I can eat.  Each one is different and they are marvelous.  Secretly they remind me of a Clyfford Stills painting with stripes of green ripping through the yellow or orange bleeding through green.  They are my favorite token of fall.
I think some tend to shy away from cooking winter squash.  When I was growing up I can remember pumpkin being served but it was strictly Thanksgiving fare and strictly in the form of pie.  I am going to bet here that our pumpkin pies never began with actually peeling a pumpkin but rather opening a can.  During my years as an art teacher, I had annually brought to class an armload of colorful gourds, pumpkin and squash as still life props for painting classes.  (They are wonderful in color mixing lessons I must say!)   Although they were recognizable to everyone, many students didn't know they were edible. ("You mean like jack o'lanterns?  You can eat those?")  

Truthfully, that hard skin is intimidating.  Then there is the question of what to do with it.  If it isn't normally a household staple than how do you know how to prepare it?  There isn't much you have to do to winter squash actually.  It is naturally sweet and starchy.  Besides, If you can get that puppy peeled the flesh is not so hard to deal with.  It will cut easily and cook quicker than you think.  
I used what's called a Sunshine Pumpkin (the very orange one in the top picture).  You want to cut the top and bottom off to give you some leverage before slicing through it.  Then go ahead and remove the seeds.
Cut your squash into chunks.  

                             1 winter squash
                             2 thick cut slices of pancetta or bacon
                             1 small bunch of sage
                             1 red onion (optional, I didn't use it but it might bring out the sweetness in the squash)
                             2 tablespoons of olive oil
                             1/4 to 1/2 cup of milk
                             1/4 to 1/2 cup of water
                             grated parmesian cheese 
                             1 lb. campanelle or other macaroni 
Heat your olive oil, then add pancetta, onion if you are using it, and cut up winter squash.
As the squash is sauteeing it is going to start to get dry.  Add liquid (milk and water) as needed.  This will steam them and some will disolve into a creamy sauce.  When the squash begins to soften add chopped sage leaves.
Toss in your cooked campanelle and top with grated parmesian.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the comment on the zucchini soup! Love your blog! My mom was a textile designer and I have fond memories of sitting at her drafting board helping her picking colors! I have to admit I just threw out a sugar pumpkin that got a little mushy sitting on my shelf too long :( This post makes me want to go get another one and try the recipe. Love squash, pumkins, etc! Are you in NY?