I’ve been cooking and shooting a lot in the dark. Well, not complete darkness, but under dimly lit kitchen lights that just can’t compare to the sunshine of my dreams. Welcome to the work world, where everyday can’t be a sunny Sunday afternoon spent in the kitchen. That’s okay. That makes those Saturdays and Sundays that much more appreciated.
My weeknight photos, however, are starting to bear a slight resemblance to a late night murder scene. Though, perhaps this feeling takes hold of me not from the harsh lighting bestowed upon my squash, but from the fact that this past week, I killed the last remains of my parents’ summer garden. Tears. No more homegrown garden cooking will be going down in my kitchen until spring arrives. My last leftover item now lay roasted, among other ingredients, in the leftovers of my fridge.
Luckily, this year I found a spot in the city to yield my own plants. The thought of that puts a smile on my face. Rather than travel to my parents’ house to workout in their garden and tow a bunch of produce home, I’ve finally found a place to start my own growing. Fortunately, one of my friends has a spot in a local community garden that she’s willing to share with me. Time to put my days as a full-time summer farmer to work. I can’t wait.
In the meantime, I’m savoring the last of last summer’s squash in this light and creamy pasta dish. It’s nuttiness, paired with that of the toasted walnuts and the sharpness of a good blue cheese, makes this one dish worthy of a final farewell to 2012. The cream sauce is light, but where it lacks, the butternut squash sweeps in. Its softened flesh from a pre-roast in the oven melts itself onto the pasta, eliminating the need for a heavier sauce here. Make sure to dry toast the walnuts in a skillet or cast iron pan prior to topping off your plate. It really pulls the whole dish together.
(Serves about 5)
- 4 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 1/3lbs)
- 2 1/2 tsp olive oil, divided
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt, divided
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
- Cooking spray
- 8 oz uncooked whole wheat farfalle
- 1 cup (~1/2) onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup soy or 2% milk, divided
- 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 oz blue cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
Preheat oven to 425F.
Combine squash, 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper on a 9×13″ baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425F for 20-25 minutes or until tender, stirring once.*
Cook the pasta according to package directions, until al dente, omitting salt and fat. Drain pasta; keep warm.
Heat a medium-large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil to pan, and swirl to coat. Add onion and garlic, and sauté for 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in 1/2 cup milk, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Combine remaining 1/2 cup milk, flour and yolks in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Slowly add egg mixture to pan, stirring constantly with a whisk or fork. Cook 5 minutes or until thickened, whisking frequently.
Combine squash, pasta, and milk mixture in a large bowl, and toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with cheese and nuts. Serve
*You don’t want the squash to be falling apart, but you do want it to be rather soft in order to add to the creaminess of the dish.