Except for me; I seem to be walking in circles. And my cooking! Oy! So deflating! Yesterday I made what purported to be French Onion Soup but what came to be known as the Big Bowl of Brown. I was earnest about uniformity of slice size, I calmly caramelized (mustn’t rush!) and gently added broth. I cloaked the top in Gruyere, anticipating the toasty cheesiness to come. I had forgotten that though some Gruyere is wonderful, some of it seems to have been aged in the wrong cave. It smelled of socks. I realize that won’t put off an ardent cheese enthusiast, but let me just say: it smelled of socks, in a bad way. I was at a meeting when my husband fed it to our children and it’s best I didn’t witness this. He was such a good sport, I am going to make him a badge.
My younger daughter told me that when she doesn’t get a good dinner (“a real dinner that’s warm with something like pasta in it”) she feels like crying. I hear you sweetie, I too am in need of some nourishing autumnal food. It’s clearly time for one of my fall traditions: roasted butternut squash with pasta and pecans. I like making this dish because it warms my cockles, plus I feel as though I have truly accomplished something once I finagle a squash out of its skin. After that bit of elbow grease, the rest is simple. You can purchase squash peeled, cubed and frozen if you like and it makes this dish a snap. Guido Barilla could use a heaping plate of this, I hear he’s having a lousy month (though Guido Ronzoni seems happy…strange…).
Peel a butternut squash with a vegetable peeler after chopping off the ends (other squash is fine but I find these easiest to peel due to the lack of ridges). Cut it in half and scoop out the seeds then cube and toss it with oil and salt in a roasting pan. Add sliced onion and some cloves of smashed garlic. Grind in a bit of pepper and place a couple rosemary sprigs on top. Heat the oven to 400 BEFORE placing roasting pan inside (if you have the pan in before the oven is heated it increases the chance of squashy squash). Let roast for about 45 minutes (it could take longer depending on the size of the squash pieces) and get some water heating for pasta. I like this with whole wheat spaghetti though whether you like your pasta curly or straight makes no difference to me 🙂 Okay, but let me be clear: only cook one kind at a time. Noodles cook at their own rate so don’t mingle bowties with fusilli or dump strozzapreti in to frolic with orecchietti. Dear God, no.
You can toast some pecans on the stove top or throw them in with the squash when it is close to done. Beware! It’s easy to overdue nuts. They traverse the micro-distance from toasty to charred in seconds. Mingle the al dente noodles with the squash in the roasting pan and sprinkle pecans on top. I serve this directly from the pan with grated parmesan cheese atop.
It’s good for what ails you, particularly aimlessness.
P.S. Thank you to several friends for inquiring about the outcome of the mud run. I came a whisper from hypothermia and realized that after a rough morning wearing the requisite race bandanna I look too much like Brett Michaels. I don’t mind crawling through mud but next time I will do it in fairer weather (it was raining, blowing and freezing) and for a cause. I will swallow mud for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, but not for fun, because it’s not fun. There was one team clad entirely in stark white (and they were not filming a Clorox commercial).