As always, the messiest food tastes the best. Eat it!
Winter squash pasta bake
kabocha/other winter squash
a hot pepper
sage, thyme, marjoram
ricotta, cream (if you want them)
chunky pasta (mezzi rigatoni in this instance)
First, get a kabocha squash or another winter squash of your choosing. Chop it in half. Scoop out and discard the seeds (or obsess about whether to keep them for spring sowing even though you only have a couple of inadequate window boxes on the balcony), and brush the cut surfaces with olive oil. Put the squash halves cut side down in a baking pan of some type with a little water, and roast at 350F for about an hour.
Now you have this:
Let the squash cool enough to handle while you're making the additional sauce base and the pasta.
Sauce: Chop up an onion and some garlic cloves and soften them in olive oil with minced hot pepper, sage, thyme, and marjoram. Some paprika might be a good addition. When everything is soft and lovely, just turn off the heat.
Pasta: put on water to boil. When it's boiling, cook the pasta. Voila!
Is your squash cool enough to handle? Ok. Scoop it out of the skin and add it to your pan of onion and garlic. Since I was using kabocha squash, which has a very thin skin, I had a pretty hard time doing this. Mostly the squash ripped under its own weight. That's ok, though; kabocha skin is edible (although other winter squash skins are not), so if you want, you can mash it right in. Hooray!
If you want to end up with cheese-infested squash pasta, add several spoonfuls of ricotta. You can also add some cream if you like. Salt and pepper everything; mix it all up. You should be left with a pan of beautiful orange goo, like so:
At this point, the business is really rich, even though it has so much vegetable content. To solve this, add a whole bunch of greens. I used red chard; kale, spinach, arugula, or whatever else floats your boat should work fine. Just wash your greens, chop them up, and mix them in. The more tender greens will wilt right in; the sturdier ones will need several more minutes of cooking. Easy.
Of course, if you really want an ultra-rich baked pasta, you can leave the greens out. The end result can get a little overwhelming, though.
Is your pasta done? Great. Drain it and mix it with the squash melange.
At this point, you could either eat the business as is or bake it for a crispy crust. I decided to bake mine, so I spread it in a casserole dish and put it in the oven at 375F. A top coating of bread crumbs or grated parmesan would not go amiss here.
Bake until golden brown (well, golden orange, I guess) and beginning to crisp on top.
You can eat it now! Hooray!