Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Winter Squash and Sage Pasta

Two weeks ago, I was visiting one  of my favorite farm stands at the West Sacramento Farmer's Market, Moon River Farm. The farmer, Sara, was selling some beautiful, smooth-skinned butternut squashes. It was a hot August day and I thought it seemed a bit early for me to be making squash, which seems so autumn-y. After all, tomato season seems to last through September in Sacramento. But the squashes were so lovely, and the farmer, Sara, told me that it would keep on the counter for several weeks.

Sure enough, my squash was still in good shape today when I got around to chopping it up. I've been wanting to try a certain winter squash recipe ever since I read The Quarter Acre Farm by Spring Warren, who lives about 30 minutes away from me in Davis, CA.  The dish is a deconstructed version of butternut squash raviolis, only much simpler. For my take on it, I attempted to make it healthier, too, by cutting back the butter and cheese and using whole wheat, organic noodles. To add more flavor, I roasted my squash extra long, until the edges were brown and the squash was decidedly caramelized. The end result of my experimentation still felt indulgent and was totally delicious.

And can I just say-  roasted, caramelized butternut squash, where have you been all my life?! Oh... probably sitting on the shelf because I was too intimidated to cut you up and too lazy to prepare you.  I'm just glad that I've found you now, especially with fall and winter coming up. This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.


Winter Squash and Sage Pasta

4-6 cups any winter squash, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1-2 cups sage leaves
8 oz. whole wheat pasta (I used penne)
1/2-1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cube butter
2 T. brown sugar or honey
olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place the cubes of squash into a bowl. Drizzle squash with olive oil and sugar or honey. Stir until the moisture from the squash and the other ingredients form a thick juice to envelope each squash cube.

Pour the squash onto a lipped cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil, spreading the squash into a single layer. Place in oven and roast until squash is tender on the inside and browned on the outside, about 40 minutes. Put squash on the counter to cool slightly.

Melt the butter in a saucepan, adding your sage leaves. Allow the butter to barely bubble and cook the sage leaves until crispy, about 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta as the directions indicate. When the pasta is cooked and drained, place it in a large bowl. Add your butter/sage and a large handful of Parmesan. Toss together. Place the squash over the top of the pasta (to avoid having it gravitate to the bottom of the bowl). Serve with a green salad if desired. Mangia!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Summer Highlights

The last time I blogged, summer was just beginning. Now it's (more or less) over!  I can honestly say that it has been a summer unlike any other. Here are a few of the highlights of my summer, beginning where I left off: with tomatoes.

We got so many tomatoes from the garden this year! Here's a picture of one early harvest:

 The tomatoes would become salads, like the one below (with basil, peppers, and garlic from the garden, and olive oil, chevre and sea salt from the Farmer's Market):

And, more recently, when we had too many tomatoes to eat them all fresh and wanted to store some for later, we experimented with homemade sun-dried tomatoes on the dehydrator:

 We got an unexpected first harvest of golden raspberries (since we didn't expect any berries until next summer on our still-young raspberry canes):
  One fun aspect of maternity leave was having a few (very few) opportunities to experience things that go on during the week when I'm usually stuck at work. For example, the Capitol Farmer's Market, which was scenic and delightful:
  Another rewarding aspect of maternity leave was having an adorable baby (see below). This, by the way, was my #30 on my "30 before 30" list. I didn't do much else on the list this summer; this item was a full-time job! :-)

 Finally, I couldn't let summer end without making a peach pie. We're headed to Apple Hill this weekend, ready to usher in fall with some apple picking!