Once upon a time, I would get home from work and begin the process of making homemade pasta. It’s a simple process involving only eggs, flour and maybe a touch of water or even olive oil. Homemade pasta is always worth it…if you have the time to invest in the wonderful tradition. Ah, time! Time is a luxury that comes in spurts these days. Claire Berlin is on the verge of walking which means a whole lot is going on in our home and time in the kitchen is more limited than usual. Instead of seeing it as an obstacle, I see it as an opportunity to think quick and cook quicker! Delicious meals, nutritious meals need not take hours of preparation and deliberation. Some do and that’s fine, (I look forward to those, too), but when you don’t have it, you can still eat well and feel good.
This dish was inspired by my love of homemade ravioli and around this time of year, that ravioli is usually filled with some sort of squash. This is something like a deconstructed version. There’s something special about the flavor of squash, the right amount of parmigiano and the sweet but bold flavor of good pasta. I’d been reluctant to post a pasta dish because of the now ubiquitous demand for gluten-free products. The rise of celiac disease and gluten intolerance has brought to light the many delicious alternatives to wheat based products. And I make an effort to balance my gluten consumption with all those delicious alternatives. Still, it’s pretty tough to beat a yummy bowl of semolina pasta! And it doesn’t have to be all bad, either!
Durum semolina wheat is prized for its high protein and high gluten. This helps keep the dough elastic yet maintaining its shape. Semolina wheat is also high in beta-carotene which is an important anti-oxidant. Whole durum will give you many of the benefits of whole grains such as fiber, iron, magnesium and B vitamins. However, because it is ground into a flour, you lose the “intactness” of the whole grain, i.e. the germ, bran and endosperm, though they are still present because the flour isn’t further refined (as is the case with white flour).
So, having some pasta isn’t a bad thing, especially if it’s organic and as whole as possible…or as unrefined as possible. It’s also ideal to have it once in a while as opposed to everyday. (I know many people who get stuck on this pasta-cycle.)
Incidentally, my new favorite store-bought pasta is Montebello, an artisan and organic pasta.
4T extra-virgin olive oil,
4-5 fresh large sage leaves, whole
1 1/2 C butternut squash, diced (roughly)
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1/2 red chili pepper, thinly sliced* (Use of seeds is entirely up to you…I chose to forgo the little buggers for this recipe.)
1 bunch Lacinato Kale, stemmed and sliced
1/2 lb organic, semolina durum wheat pasta
Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1. Place 2 T of olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add sage leaves and squash and cook until just tender, about 12-15 minutes. Set aside.
2. In the same pan, add remaining olive oil, garlic, and chili and saute for 2-3 minutes before adding kale. Saute until kale is just wilted and a beautiful, vibrant green color.
3. In the meantime, get the pasta cooking according to the instructions on the box. You’re aiming for al dente pasta, cooked but firm. (Overcooked pasta is not pleasant at all!) Drain and drizzle with another T of olive oil.
4. When everything is done, toss together in a bowl and serve immediately, topped with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
*The chili is divine in this dish. The heat plays so well with the sweetness of the butternut squash. I know a few former classmates who will love my new found love for chili peppers!