An autumn supper in a bowl, this is a "sauce" that you roast in the oven in about 30 minutes: chunks of sweet squash, roasted herbs, and greens. Add half-and-half, toss with hot pasta and cheese, and you have a great sell to the anti-vegetable contingent.
Cook to Cook: You could cook this dish ahead through Step 6 and then bake it in a shallow casserole, topping it with extra cheese in the last 5 minutes of baking.
5 quarts salted water in a 6-quart pot
3 to 3-1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into bite-sized chunks
1 medium to large onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 big handfuls escarole or curly endive that has been washed, dried, and torn into small pieces, or spring mix
1/3 tight-packed cup fresh basil leaves, torn
16 large fresh sage leaves, torn
5 large garlic cloves, coarse chopped
1/3 cup good-tasting extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tight-packed tablespoon brown sugar (light or dark)
Salt and fresh-ground black pepper
Pasta and Finish:
1 pound imported bow-tie pasta
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 to 1-1/2 cups (about 6 ounces) shredded Asiago cheese
1. Slip one large or two smaller shallow sheet pans into the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 F. Bring the salted water to a boil.
2. In a big bowl, toss together all the ingredients for the roasted vegetables. Be generous with the salt and pepper.
3. Pull out the oven rack holding the sheet pan. Taking care not to burn yourself, turn the squash blend onto the hot sheet pan and spread it out. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the squash is tender, turning the vegetables two or three times during roasting.
4. As the squash becomes tender, drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook it until tender, but with some firmness to the bite. Drain in a colander.
5. Once the squash is tender, turn on the broiler to caramelize it. Watch the vegetables closely, turning the pieces often. Anticipate about 5 minutes under the broiler. You want crusty brown edges on the squash and wilted, almost crisp greens.
6. Scrape everything into a serving bowl. Add the half-and-half, hot pasta, and 1 cup of the cheese. Toss to blend, tasting for salt and pepper. Add more cheese if desired. Serve hot.
Reprinted from The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift (Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2008). Copyright 2008 by American Public Media.
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