Feb 28, 2012

Squash Pasta with Jalapeno--comfort with a zing

When it comes to comfort, me thinks Pasta and Chianti.

But me also thinks squash. Picture this:

It is a random, cold rainy day.  I say random, because Spring is not about cold rains. At least, there seems to be something not quite right about cold rain on a spring evening. Anyways, now that such an evening is here and you did not carry your umbrella. Your socks are irritatingly wet, the jeans is wet too. Cold rain has pierced your sneakers. Or stockings. Or is just making your toes wet and numb. You head home and the heart and soul screams for some comfort. 

Of hot shower. Of dry socks.Of warm pajamas. Of a great glass of Chianti. Or a cheap one. 

On such a day as yesterday that fell a lot of cold rain in sunny San Diego, all I did after I returned home was turn on the oven and put on some pasta water on the stove. As the two got going, I chopped up some squash. 

If you think squash is not your go to condiment (yes a condiment almost as you will see in the recipe) for Pasta, this take on squash pasta will make you rethink. I give you with utmost delight today a bit of twist on your winter staple comfort food.

Squash Pasta with Jalapeno

A medium sized squash. I like butternut. But you can use any. Really. Just peel and coarsely cube.
2-3 large jalapenos. Slit lengthwise. Seed removed or not. Choice is yours
4-5 large garlic cloves. Slivered.
1/2 lb of pasta. I like Fettuccine or Linguine. I suppose any long pasta would do. The key is to lower the ratio of pasta: squash. You want ample squash and not ample pasta. Please NO NOODLES here (trust me, I have seen pasta recipes being used for noodles)
A handful of toasted nuts (toast lightly at 350 for 10 min or just on a dry skillet on low heat for no more than 3-4 min). Chop up if you like. I like walnut here
A bit of Gouda or parmigiano. Grated. For garnish and hence optional. I recommend strongly.
A bit of parsley for garnish.
Sat and pepper
3 tbsf olive oil (two if which will for cooking your squash).

Keep it simple and homey
You can do a few things with the cubed squash
(a) Drizzle with 2 tbsf olive oil, a bit of chilli flakes, salt and pepper. Le stand, while the oven heats up. Roast the squash at 410-415 F for 45 min.
(b) Shallow fry them in oil (2 tbsf) and cover to cook through. You may need to add some water to prevent drying/burning/sticking. About 20 min.
(c) Boil them, drain them and mix with 2 tbsf olive oil. Best way to start is by filling up a pot with cold water, putting in the squash and heat them together ~ 10 min.

Once squash is done, start the pasta water. Remember ample water and bring to boil. Add salt, liberally. Bring the water back to boil. Only now, drop the pasta in. Slowly and lovingly stir it. Let Pasta cook for 8-10 min till almost done but not quite. There should still be a bite to it, when you drain the pasta. Also, remember to save a cup of pasta water before you drain the pasta. You may need it, if the pasta looks dry when mixing with the rest of the ingredients.
While the pasta cooks,  add oil and slivered garlic and jalapeno on oil at low heat. Treated gently like this, garlic become soft and sweet and you can use twice as much without the dish getting too heavy in garlic. Awesome thing. Once garlic become light brown add the roasted squash and gently break those cubes while you are mixing. No need to mash it completely, just a bit. Season with salt and pepper. Drain pasta and add the pasta to the skillet with the garlic-jalapeno flavored mushed squash. Toss well. You may need to add the pasta water if things look dry.  Check seasoning. 
Plate up. Garnish with some grated cheese, nuts and parsley.

Now, if that is not comfort on a rainy day. I don't know what is :)

Happy eating and healthy living!

1 comment:

The Japanese Redneck said...

I'm so ready for my garden to making fresh jalapenos