It's Monday, and you're tired, hungry, and craving a meal that's more exciting than that pizza lurking in the depths of your freezer. This time you might dial up takeout or bust out a fast and easy pantry pasta dish, but chef Alex Guarnaschelli has a smart solution for weeks to come. To avoid this dilemma in the future, she suggests spending a couple of hours cooking on a cozy Sunday afternoon to set yourself up for an enticing meal later in the week. Watch the video for her satisfying squash pasta recipe — it can, and should be, made ahead, as it tastes even better after an overnight stay in the fridge.
For the squash sauce:
2 medium butternut squash, split lengthwise and seeded
Freshly ground white pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
For the caponata:
2 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into small 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon oregano leaves, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 heaping tablespoons golden raisins
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 medium celery stalks, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons capers, drained
1 pound penne pasta
- For the squash sauce: Preheat oven to 375°F. Arrange the squash halves cavity side up in a roasting pan. Season them generously with salt, pepper, and the dried ginger. In a small saucepan, melt the butter completely over medium heat. Wait until it starts to turn a light brown color. Remove from the heat, and pour it into the cavities of the squash halves; split the brown sugar evenly between the cavities of the squash halves. Fill the bottom of the roasting pan with about 1 inch of water. (This will create steam while the squash bakes in the oven.) Tightly cover the tray with aluminum foil.
- Bake in the center of the oven, undisturbed, for 2 hours. To check for doneness, carefully peel back the foil and pierce one of the halves with the tip of a small knife. If they're at all firm, bake the halves an additional 30-45 minutes.
- Once it's cool enough to handle, pour the liquid from the squash cavities into a large mixing bowl. Use a large spoon to scoop the flesh from the squash and add it to the bowl, leaving all the skin behind. (The skin can be very bitter.) Add the zest from 1/4 of the orange and the juice from 1/2 of the orange, and stir to combine.
- In a large pot, bring the milk, cream, a pinch of salt, and 1/2 cup of water to a simmer. Add the squash, and stir to blend. Once the mixture has returned to a simmer, taste for seasoning. Puree the squash in batches in a blender or with a hand blender until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- For the caponata: Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, toss the squash with the sugar and half of the olive oil. Season with salt and the oregano. Arrange the squash in a single layer on a baking sheet, and place it in the center of the oven. Cook until the squash is tender but still holds its shape and is somewhat firm, 15-20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine the red wine vinegar and raisins in a small bowl. Add the remaining olive oil to a skillet, and set it over medium heat. When it begins to smoke lightly, add the onions, garlic, and celery. Season with salt, and cook until they are translucent, 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, and stir in the capers; refrigerate. When the squash is cooked, remove from the oven, and allow it to cool. Once it's cool, add it to the onion mixture. Stir in the raisins and vinegar, and toss. Taste for seasoning.
- In a large pot, bring 6 quarts of water and a generous amount of salt to a rolling boil. Add the pasta to the pot, and stir, so it doesn't stick to the bottom as it cooks. Cook the pasta until al dente, 8-10 minutes. Reserve a little of the pasta cooking liquid, and then drain the pasta in a colander. Toss the pasta with the squash sauce; thin with the starchy pasta water, if necessary. Stir in the caponata. Serve immediately.
- Main Dishes, Pasta
- 6-8 servings