Sunday, November 14, 2010

When You're Surrounded By Squash

The other day I found myself looking around my kitchen and realized one thing, that I was surrounded by squash.  I was actually a little impressed with the varieties of squash and pumpkins I had collected not only from my garden but from the various farmers markets, harvest festivals, and produce stands that I had been visiting over the course of the last month. 
However, I went to bed that evening and had a very strange dream about killer squash and how I was their most hated enemy since I kept many of their friends as captives on my back porch.  When I woke up that morning I was convinced that I was losing my mind and that I needed to find a way to thin out the inmates in my squash jail.  So I put on my thinking cap and tried to come up with a recipe that would liberate me from squash madness and therefore restore my sanity.  I spent several days researching, thinking, and obsessing about squash, but to no recipe.  As days passed I kept looking out at my squash prisoners on my back porch and wondered if I officially had recipe block (I don't know if that is a real term....I guess it is now).  Then the other night I was stirring some macaroni and cheese for my little one when it came to me, why not use it with pasta (being of Italian descent you would think this idea would have come sooner)?  So with a slightly disturbing smile on my face I scribbled a recipe on one of the hundreds of paper scraps I have littered throughout my house and once again a recipe was born, and luckily I liberated myself from squash......well at least some of it anyway.

Penne With Roasted Squash

4 large parsnips peeled and diced
6 cups of diced squash (butternut, golden nugget, delicata)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound bacon diced
2 medium shallots diced
2 garlic cloves minced
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons fresh oregano chopped
1/4 cup fresh chopped Italian parsley
1 lb penne pasta
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
8oz Mascarpone cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  I a large bowl combine the parsnips and squash.  Drizzle the olive oil over the veggies and sprinkle with the salt and pepper.  Stir the veggies well to evenly distribute the oil and spices.  Pour the veggies onto a baking sheet and roast until the veggies and tender and caramelized, about 35-45 minutes.  In a medium saucepan cook the diced bacon until crispy, about 10 minutes.  Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside. 

Pour off the excess bacon fat and add the butter, shallots, and garlic.  Cook the shallots and garlic until tender, about 3 minutes.  Add the cream, scraping up all the brown bits.  Meanwhile heat a pot of salted water until boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente.  Add the bacon, and oregano to the cream mixture, cook for an additional 2 minutes. 

Drain the pasta, reserving some of the pasta water.  In a large bowl combine the pasta with the bacon mixture, roasted veggies, Mascarpone, parsley and half of the Parmesan.  Toss the pasta until all the ingredient are well combined, adding the pasta water to loosen the sauce.  Don't worry if the squash breaks up a bit, it will make the sauce creamy and wonderful!  Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese on top and you're done!

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