Harvest Pasta

This time of year the trees are cooking up a feast for our eyes. It’s exhilarating.

Reds, oranges, yellows mixing with the year’s last shades of green.

With that comes a drop in temperatures. That tends to inspire soups and stews, but I let it feed a desire to use color in my creations.image

The other night our friend came over for dinner. We always lean toward hearty Italian dishes.

I love a big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs, don’t get me wrong.

But my partner in cuisine crime and I had just been to the mountains where Fall was blooming.

My mind meandered toward the butternut squash and Roma tomatoes on my counter and the red peppers and zucchini in the fridge. Add in some rigatoni and you have a seasonal show of color on the plate! image

I also added cannellini beans for a bit of texture and protein, since this is a vegetarian dish.

Here’s what you need for my harvest pasta:

  • 1 box of rigatoni
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 3 small zucchini
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 5 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Fresh basil, Italian parsley, and Romano cheese for garnish

Here’s how you do it:

Preheat your oven to 425.

Prepare the butternut squash. First, cut the stem off. Then cut the bulb off. So you’ll have two pieces, the neck and the bulb.

Use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin.

Cut the neck in half lengthwise, then cut each half in half lengthwise. Cut each half into cubes.image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cut the bulb in half. Scoop out the seeds, and roast them for a snack if you’d like.

Cut each half of the bulb into cubes.

Put all the cubes on a cookie sheet lined with non-stick foil, or sprayed with non-stick spray. image

Drizzle on one tbsp. of the oil and sprinkle on a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Use your hands to toss.

Roast the cubes for 20-25 minutes, flipping the cubes halfway through.

They’re done when golden on each side and easily pierced with a toothpick.image

While the squash roasts, cut the zucchini into half moons and slice the pepper.image

Put a large pan over medium-high heat and add the remaining 3 tbsp. oil.

Peel each clove of garlic and slice them half lengthwise. Add the halves, cut side down, to the oil. image

Cook for about 2 minutes per side or just until the cloves are golden. Remove them before they burn.image

You can throw away the cloves now. As the great Anne Burrell says, “It has fulfilled its garlic destiny.”

In other words, the garlic infused the oil with its flavor.

Now add in the zucchini and bell pepper. Toss in the oil. Add salt and pepper. Cook for about 7 minutes or until the vegetables soften and start to brown.image

In the meantime, dice the tomatoes.

When the vegetables are soft and browned, add the tomatoes. Stir. Add salt and pepper.image And

Add the oregano, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder. Stir.

Cook, stirring frequently, while you cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Remember to salt the water.

When the pasta is done, reserve a cup of the cooking liquid and drain the pasta.

Add the cooked butternut squash and the drained/rinsed beans to the pan of vegetables. Stir.

Toss the sauce with the pasta. Add 1/2 cup of the pasta liquid and stir. If the sauce is too thick, add the remaining cooking liquid.

Garnish with ribbons of basil and chopped fresh Italian parsley. I like to add freshly-grated Romano cheese, too!image

Look at this food! I can’t get enough of the colors!

The butternut squash is sweet. There’s a bit of heat from the red pepper flakes. The bell pepper has a bit of a bite.

This meal tastes even better because the squash, tomatoes, bell pepper and zucchini came from our farmers’ market and the basil and parsley came from our yard. So fresh!

You could easily make this on a weeknight. Roast the butternut squash in the morning before work (call me crazy, I know) or do it the night before. Just put the roasted squash in the fridge and then add it according to my recipe. It’ll heat through in no time. image

Every year I get hungry for Fall. Now I have another reason.

Tip: You could easily use pumpkin or acorn squash in place of the butternut squash. Use whatever you can find. Don’t stop at zucchini and bell pepper. Try mushrooms, onions, or broccoli. You could also add sausage. 

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