Sunday, January 29, 2017

Stew and pasta for a winter Sunday

What do I have on hand for today’s creation? That’s the question I often begin with when I cook. This weekend I wanted to use some of the vegetables from last fall’s harvest—pumpkin puree that I had frozen and a butternut squash. Those orange vegetables are a powerhouse of goodness for your body, providing Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Potassium, Vitamin E as well as minerals like magnesium. But I’m rarely content with a one-color dish so I also pulled out some locally grown arugula (thank you Berea College Farm Store) and red onions. 

These vegetables sounded like the perfect complement to pasta. With the pumpkin puree I could make a pumpkin alfredo sauce for the dish. But I still needed a protein so I turned to Lydia Bastianich’s Masteringthe Art of Italian Cuisine. She has a Lentil Stew recipe that is hearty and tasty. It’s also great for leftovers later in the week when I’ll likely combine it with rice or barley for a one-dish wonder.

To balance these dishes I also made a fresh, fruit salad. When we finished eating, my husband (who isn’t fond of pasta) said it was the best pasta he had tasted and he thought it was delicious. He liked the mellow undertones of pumpkin and the subtle spices in the dish. Here’s my recipe.

Pasta and vegetables with pumpkin alfredo sauce
1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped
1 small red onion , chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
Olive oil
2 cups arugula
1 ½ TBS butter
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup heavy whipping cream
¼ + cup of grated pecorino cheese
Pinch of nutmeg
1 ½ tsp oregano
2 cups penne pasta
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss squash with olive oil and salt. Spread on baking sheet and roast 15 minutes. Stir the squash then roast another 15 minutes or until a fork easily pierces the squash.
 Heat salted water to boil penne for 8 – 12 minutes. If you prefer it al dente, check it at 8 minutes to see if it’s done enough for you. Boiling time depends on if you’re using pasta made from a whole grain or refined flour.
Wash and chop arugula. Set aside.
Drizzle large, flat-bottom skillet with olive oil. Heat. Sprinkle in onions and sauté on low until they begin to get soft. Add garlic and sauté for another minute or two. Add butter and melt then stir in pumpkin puree. Slowly stir in cream then add nutmeg and oregano. Sprinkle in pecorino. By this time the pasta should be done. Use a spider to spoon the pasta from the pasta water and into the sauce. The water that comes with the pasta will help thicken the sauce. Spoon in about half of the pasta then add half of the arugula and stir. Next add the rest of the pasta and arugula and stir. Add the roasted squash, stir, then taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to your taste.
Top with more cheese and serve.