As I write this, the branches outside are swirling, restless, dry leaves rustling together furiously. And then they stop. It’s kind of eerie. The whole day has been strange. We went to the supermarket in the morning to pick up emergency supplies, only to find that the entire neighborhood had turned out with the same idea. Lines curved haphazardly around the front of the store and the people working the cash registers were hustling like I’ve never seen them hustle before.
This Hurricane Sandy business is serious stuff. To be honest, since I don’t keep up with the news at all (like at all. I just found out on Wednesday that the Giants had made it to the World Series—and were playing their first game that night!), I had no idea that the forecasted stretch of rain I’d noticed on my weather app was going to turn into anything serious. And then the entire world, all at once, started flinging the fact in my face.
I decided to make pasta with a butternut squash that had been sitting around for a few weeks. With the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having, it hadn’t quite felt like the right time to crack it open. But I figure, if we’re about to be blown to Oz, I might as well have something hearty prepared.
And so, in the eerie light of an afternoon going on night, I photographed the dish. You might not be able to tell, but the light is all askew. It’s dim and oblique, uncooperative. It’s alright though. The city’s about to go into lockdown!
Let’s call this Eye of the Storm rigatoni, an oasis in the form of baked butternut squash, toasted pine nuts, velvety sage, and heaps of freshly-shaven parmesan. It even gets a quick toss in a cast-iron so that the pasta crisps, and the squash chars. Is healthy comfort food an oxymoron?
PASTA WITH BUTTERNUT SQUASH, SAGE, AND PINE NUTS
Adapted from The Kitchn
1 butternut squash, about 2 pounds
1 small onion, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup fresh sage leaves
Enough rigatoni for 4 people (about 12 oz.)
1/3 – 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut, peel, and seed the squash, then cut it into 1-inch cubes. Toss with the onion, garlic, a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper. Mince about half of the fresh sage leaves and toss with the squash. Spread the mixture evenly on a large baking sheet and bake for about 50 minutes, or until squash is soft. Rotate the pan halfway through.
About halfway through baking, make the pasta. Once it’s ready, drain thoroughly and set aside.
A few minutes before taking the squash out of the oven, heat a couple Tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet. When the oil is hot, lay in the sage leaves and heat them until they become crisp, about a minute. Remove them with a slotted spoon, lightly salt them, and crush them.
Once the squash is ready, pour the pasta and squash mixture into the skillet and cook for a few minutes, until the pasta begins to crisp. Stir in the crumbled sage and pine nuts. Serve with parmesan on the side.