Pumpkins are everywhere right now. Even jack-o'-lanterns seem to have their own jack-o'lanterns. I like the taste of pumpkin flesh, I do. But its overuse in sweet applications can get a bit, well, treacly. There's only so much pumpkin pie I can eat, and I refuse to partake in the seasonal silliness that is spiced pumpkin latté.
But squash, now that's a gourd of a different color. A good squash can be roasted on its own, doused in butter, seasoned with a little salt and pepper and eaten straight out of the oven. It can accompany a medly of other vegetables, or paired with chopped, fried sausage and herbs. It can be puréed into a velvety soup, with or without cream, and delicately seasoned. No need to douse it in a dust storm of cinnamon--a little fresh nutmeg and maybe a bit of allspice will do.
In this seasonally ghoulish recipe, I've combined the aptly-named priest-choker pasta (strozzapreti) with cubes of sweet dumpling squash. Don't worry about hacking off a limb trying to slice open this gourd, it's got a relatively thin skin. Just wash the squash before cubing and you can leave the skin on.
Priest chokers with sweet dumpling squash and kale
8.8oz/250g strozzapreti, penne, or zitti
butter and olive oil
1 onion, halved and sliced into semi-circles
1 sweet dumpling squash, seeded and cubed
½ bunch kale, chopped
pecorino, parmigiano-reggiano, or sardo
salt and pepper
hot pepper flakes
Cook and drain the pasta, reserving a cup of the cooking water. Toss with butter and set aside.
Place the empty pasta pot on a medium flame and add enough butter and olive oil to cover the bottom.
Saute the onion until translucent. Add the squash and saute for a few minutes.
Stir in the kale and pour in about ⅓-½ of the pasta water. Cover and cook until the kale has wilted.
Add the pasta into the vegetable mixture, and stir in the ricotta. Remove from flame.
Grate some cheese over the pasta, and season to taste with salt, pepper, freshly grated nutmeg, and hot pepper flakes.