When autumn embraces Italy, ladies of a certain age don their fur coats in temperatures that still invite tourists to wear shorts and sandals. The change of season also welcomes this delicious pasta dish to many school dinner menus. It makes the most of the abundance of squashes and pumpkins. This recipe was given to me by a head teacher I know in Naples. She says the sweet buttery taste goes down a treat with most kids. It also makes sure they get a good dose of veggies. In my house this recipe is a big hit for an easy supper as it only uses one pan to cook the lot. We stir some chilli oil into the adults portions to add a kick that contrasts nicely with the sweetness.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
serves 2 adults and 2 children
1 butternut squash or pumpkin cut into tiny cubes (around 600g)
2 garlic cloves
3 tbsp olive oil
250g of dried pasta (mixture of any type of short pasta you have, macaroni or and spaghetti broken into pieces)
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
3 heaped tbsp grated Parmesan
2 tbsp cream/crème fraîche (optional)
1.In a large saucepan, cook the garlic cloves in a generous glug of oil over a low heat until they’re softened. Squash the cloves with a spoon to flavour the oil then remove. They’ve done their job.
2. Turn the heat up to medium high, and add the cubes of squash to the pan. Sautee for 10–15 minutes or so, add a dash more oil and a splash of white wine if they start sticking to the bottom. The cubes should be golden on the outside and soft to press, if not then cook for a little longer.
3. Add 3 cups of water and a pinch of salt (optional). Cover and bring to the boil then simmer for 5 minutes before adding the dried pasta. Uncover when the pasta is boiling again, and use the back of a wooden spoon to squash some of the cubes so the sauce thickens. You can add more water if you want this dish more soupy, but I like it as a thick sauce. Needs occasional stirring so it doesn’t stick.
4. When pasta is cooked (10-15 mins) stir in chopped parsley, handful of parmesan and some black pepper. You can add a spoon or two of cream or crème fraîche and a dash of chilli oil according to taste.