Sunday, January 3, 2016
Poof, you're a pasta!
The feeling around here is that I have never met an ingredient—a solid one, a liquid, or any other kind—that I would not somehow, some way fit—or, if necessary, force—into a pasta recipe. Take this butternut squash. It was supposed to be a side dish for another cook's menu, but when the woman wasn't watching (okay, it was 5 a.m. and she was still asleep in the bed that we share) I absconded with said squash and prayed for a not too harsh punishment.
A lying, cheating, conniving man does what a lying, cheating, conniving man must do.
Lop the top off, cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Place on a baking sheet and put in the oven, preheated to 400 degrees F. (Do this as quietly as possible, lest you cause another in the house to prematurely awaken.)
As the squash is roasting dice a medium-size red onion very finely and saute in 4 tablespoons butter until the onion is softened. Do this on a low flame and slowly so that the onion and the butter do not burn. (Smells emanating from the kitchen have been known to move even the deepest of sleepers to rise. You're on your own here. Risk is an essential component to a full life.)
Start checking the squash for doneness at around 30 minutes. The flesh should be soft enough for a fork to go through easily. This squash roasted for around 50 minutes. Allow to cool then scoop out all the flesh and discard the skin.
In a food processor put the squash, the onion (including the butter it cooked in), 1/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano, a good dose of nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. Process for around 30 seconds or so, or until you can get a sense of how moist the mixture is going to be.
Start adding a little cream and continue processing. The idea here is to make a nice rich filling but not a wet and runny one. I added the cream in a couple stages and wound up using around 1/4 cup.
Here's the filling when it's done. It's about the consistency of a very moist ricotta. (If you are wondering, the answer is No, the food-processing stage did not awaken my beloved.)
At this point the pasta shape is up to you. I'd first thought about making ravioli but decided to go with cappelletti (little hats) instead.
... and like so...
... and, well, you get the idea.
I decided to serve the cappelletti en brodo, or simply in broth. There was a lot of turkey broth in the freezer from Thanksgiving and so I boiled and served the pasta in that. I also topped each serving with some crisp chunks of cooked homemade pancetta and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
It was only at this point that I knew I had been forgiven.