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recipe collector...civil engineer...cookbook devourer...looking to share cookbook & recipe reviews and my real-life kitchen dramas as I re-engineer recipes ...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Three Free Thursday Part II: Pasta with Butternut Squash and Sage

Happy Three Free Thursday, Blog Readers!   To recap the process, on the first Thursday, I select three free recipes from sources on Twitter.  On the following Thursday, I report back via blog entry the full results of my adventures in the kitchen and let you know if you should try these recipes at home. Enjoy!

Recipe: Pasta w/ Butternut Squash & Sage
Source: @TestKitchen

It is bright, blue-skied afternoon as I prepare to cook up some new hearty pasta dishes featuring savory cheeses and winter vegetables. Despite local retail stores being stocked full of early spring/summer inventory like light pastel-colored cotton cardigans and even short shorts (gasp!), it is still winter in New England. While I may desire a brightly-colored trench coat, I still need that boring old wool coat.  It's still brutal out there and there are ten calendar days left until spring truly begins,  so let's send out the final winter root vegetables and hearty comfort foods out with a bang.  This Three Free Thursday, I'm making two pasta dishes - @TestKitchen Pasta w/ Butternut Squash & Sage and @Real_Simple Cheesy Baked Pasta with Spinach and Artichokes.

This Pasta with Butternut Squash and Sage  recipe is delicious and so rich in flavor that you don't need a big serving to feel satisfied. Sage is one of my favorite herbs - delicate, velvety leaves, but rich flavor and alluring aroma.This is a very fragrant dish that will infuse your kitchen with aromas so intoxicating that your neighbors are likely going to invite themselves over for dinner. 
Fresh sage leaves...velvety texture
with an intense fragrance.

You will need to adjust this recipe to obtain the required 2 Tbsp of bacon fat required to carmalize the butternut squash. Either double the amount of bacon (8 slices) or add 1 Tbsp of olive oil the pan prior to adding squash.  I believe you can never have too much bacon, but you be the judge.  Also a warning about cooking time - be careful that squash is completely tender before removing from heat.  In my experience, the recipe's timing suggestion was insufficient to produce consistent tenderness in the squash. Serve with nice dry white wine, a green salad and a crusty bread. 

Tip:  Many people dislike handling fresh butternut squash because of its tough peel and hand-staining flesh and seeds. Instead of substituting frozen squash, which can be watery and flavorless, use this technique to easily work with fresh butternut squash. First, cut off the top and bottom of the squash to create flat surfaces.  Stand squash up on a wooden cutting board and place palm atop the squash pressing it gently into the cutting board. Use a very sharp vegetable peeler and peel skin off in a downward motion away from you.  Using a paring knife, remove any leftover skin from the base of the squash that you missed.  Cut squash in half, scoop out seeds using a large spoon and then proceed to cut the butternut squash into 1/2-inch pieces using a large knife. See how easy that can be?
Sidebar: While sauteing the sage and bacon (see delicious photo above), the smell of cooking bacon made me crave breakfast food.  Something inside me kept screaming SAGE & BACON OMELET... so I think Sunday breakfast could be interesting this week - stay tuned!

  • To make this a vegetarian recipe, eliminate bacon and cook sage leaves in olive oil for 1-2 minutes to infuse flavor of sage into the cooking oil.
  • Penne/ziti are boring! Mix it up with farfalle ("bowties") or campanelle (“bells”). Try using wheat or whole grain pastas to enhance the nutty flavor.  This dish would also go famously atop a bed of cheese tortellini.
  • Go for it - add a little extra Parmesan cheese and bacon to make the dish more savory.  There's loads of time until bathing suit season truly begins...
  • Don't forget to toast the almonds. It's the little things in this recipe that add tremendous flavor and make this dish memorable.
Rating: 5 out of 5 

Thanks for reading Part III of this week's Three Free Thursday! Feel free to send in recipe suggestions for Three Free Thursday on Twitter to @RecipEngineer or by e-mail RecipEngineer@gmail.com

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