Food & Garden
Seasonal Recipe Series: Butternut Squash Pasta for October
The first in our seasonal recipe series, this month is all about the butternut squash. We headed to North London the home of our Home Editor, Robert’s allotment where he grows an array of seasonal fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers. Here Robert picked one of his own squashes as well as some other veg and herbs to cook us up a delicious pasta recipe!
Celebrating one of October’s finest vegetables
October is the month of Butternut squash. This somewhat overlooked bell shaped squash is a vegetable of greatness, not only for it’s super source of nutritional values as well as high source of fibre, vitamins and minerals but also since you can easily roast, saute, fry or make a soup, it can be the “x” factor in many dishes.
It was back in the long light evenings of the early summer, that I planted up one corner of my veg garden with a selection of squashes, which I had grown from seed in late April on my window sill. This corner of the garden (also referred to as “squashville”) became a beautifully wild patch of vines and great umbrella leaves, and as the high summer turned into early autumnal days, hidden orbs of vivid orange, yellow and oak green appeared to ripen in the last of season’s warmth.
Having lovingly spent the summer months nurturing and watering them, it was really great this week to have been able to harvest the last of the squashes and head back to the kitchen with a basket full of squashes. This inspired me to make a variation of a south Italian recipe of Butternut squash. I have chosen to take two southern Italian pastas (one Puglian, one Siclian) and mix them together to give this dish a hearty and textured body of pasta to hold the delicious dense squash. While it may be a little harder to visit Italy these days, we can always bring a little bit of Italy to us as we travel through our senses.
Recipe: Butternut squash, sage with fresh south Italian pastas
I highly recommend using organic produce where possible (look out for them in your nearest farmers market or green grocer).
The recipe is for 4 people, however if you are going to be less around the table you can simply divide it according to the number of people you are cooking for.
1 medium sized butternut squash
6 tbsp of good organic olive oil
80g organic butter
1 whole vine of cherry tomatoes or 150g of tinned organic cherry tomatoes
1 small red onion or 2 shallots
4 sage leaves, 6 or more basil leaves, a sprig of thyme leaves, and a sprig of oregano (mix the herbs together)
400g of fresh organic pasta (200g of semolina orecchiette and 200g wholegrain casarecce). I like to use Pastificio Carleschi.
Sea salt and black pepper
Generous serving of either cacio ricotta or parmesan cheese or mix
Split the squash into two by cutting it in half, then scrape out the seeds and fibres from the heart of the squash then cut each half into long pieces, then keep cutting up the squash until you reach your aim of postage stamp-sized cubes of orange squash flesh.
Taking a large heavy frying pan or casserole pot, start by gently warming 80g of butter and 6 tbsp of oil, finely chop up one small red onion or two shallot, place these into the pan or casserole pot and cook on low to medium heat until it’s tender and soft, then add the butternut cubes, now add around half of the herbs mix as you gently sauté over a moderate to low heat for around 20 minutes or until they start to go a nut brown.
Then separately fill a large saucepan with water, add salt and bring to a boil.
Take 200g of cherry tomatoes (these are the last of this summer’s tomatoes) then add them to the squash pan or casserole pot, stir in gently and leave to cook for further 10 mins, until the tomatoes are soft and their skins are just starting to slip away. Then add the second half of the herbs mix (dried herbs can work well too) into the squash pan or casserole pot. Now season (to taste) with good sea salt and freshly cracked pepper.
Add your pasta mix to the boiling water, give a light stir as you do so, and cook for about 9 minutes, make sure you cook the pasta <al dente>.
Then drain and add to the squash casserole/pot, mixing all of it together. Finish it with a handsome serving of grated parmesan or hard ricotta on top of the mixed dish and serve immediately to enjoy the freshness of the pasta. Buon appetito!
What else is in season?
October is one of the best months for seasonal produce from the kitchen garden – in particular the vegetables as the last of the summer veg is at its best and the first of the autumn winter green veg takes its place. From pumpkins and squash to celery and kale, there are so wonderful veggies to enjoy this month to make delicious veggie dishes with…
All the Squashes (Delica Pumpkin, Kabocha, Harlequin, Butternut, Queen Squash)
The first harvest of the winter greens ( Kale, Chard, Cavello Nero )
Apples and Pears
Last picking of autumnal Raspberries