I didn’t grow up celebrating Thanksgiving in the traditional way, as in, I never saw my mom touch a squash in her life. So when I bought an acorn squash on a fun Whole Foods trip with Leslie, I was unsure what I would do with it. I had no idea how it would cook or what it would taste like since I had no memory of it! After asking around (read: twittering about it- I’m @rhodeygirltests) I decided I would first try to roast it and then decide what to do with it. The smell coming from my oven was so heavenly that I ate half plain, just like that, for dinner. It was delicious.
The next day I started brainstorming what I could do with the other half that was already roasted. I knew I didn’t want to have to make a special trip to the market so I was limited to the ingredients I had in my house. This is what I came up with, and I have to say it was so good I repeated it the next night!
And even closer…
Ziti With Acorn Squash, Arugula & Feta Cheese
2 oz Piccolini ziti*
1/4 roasted acorn squash
1/2 cup fresh arugula
1/2 oz feta cheese
nonstick cooking spray
sea salt to taste
1. Set oven to 375 degrees Farenheit. Peel the acorn squash and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and add the acorn squash. Sprinkle with a dash of sea salt and bake for 25 minutes, flipping the squash once. This will make the squash crispy on the outside but keep the creaminess on the inside. Alternatively, you can just mash the squash into a bowl- this will actually make the dish even better, as explained below.**
2. Prepare pasta according to directions on the package. Don’t forget to salt the water prior to adding the pasta. While the pasta is cooking, add the feta and arugula to your serving bowl.
3. When the pasta is done, drain and immediately add to the bowl. Add the finished acorn squash and toss. Enjoy!
*I love the Barilla Piccolini ziti because the pasta is a lot smaller than usual pasta sizes. I like small bites and I like to use small forks and honestly, I love that I can eat what seems to eat a bigger bowl for the same quantity.
**When I repeated the dish the second night I was too lazy to make the squash all crispy so I just mashed it in a bowl with the arugula and feta. It made the pasta so creamy and flavorful, and even PhillyBoy loved it. I can’t wait to make it again, and in fact I bought another acorn squash today!
Some hints to making a delicious pasta dish:
1. Cook it for the right amount of time. You want the pasta to be al dente. I usually cook it for a minute less than it says on the box. Taste the pasta before you drain it. It should have a little bit of chew and should be white and softer at the edges.
2. Don’t forget to salt your pasta water. It is your only chance to flavor the pasta. Salt isn’t just to make food salty- it helps bring out the flavor of whatever you are cooking. That is why you add a pinch of salt to a pot of sweet oatmeal.
3. When you finish cooking the pasta, immediately add it to the sauce you have made. Cooked pasta should not sit in a bowl without sauce. Pasta is really a vehicle for a delicious sauce, so you want the pasta to absorb some the sauce and become more flavorful. That is why pasta is all different shapes, in my opinion. Some shapes are better at soaking up certain sauces than others. For example, I would definitely pair a ridged pasta with a chunky sauce, like an eggplant tomato sauce. In the same regard, I would not pair spaghetti with a chunky sauce because it would just slide right off the spaghetti.
If you are looking for another fall recipe that doesn’t involve pasta, try this one.
I only made one serving of this pasta the first night because PB was on a work trip. I only made one serving the second night because I never thought PB would like a pasta with squash. I was pleasantly surprised when he asked for a few bites… and then asked for a few more!!!! Please try this dish and let me know what you think!
Have a great Sunday!
P.S. I feel so happy here living in Philadelphia and had the best weekend!!! PB and I had a fun, relaxing morning yesterday listening to jazz music and cleaning the house. Then we went apple picking with Heather and Mark (more tomorrow), and then I learned how to make pumpkin ravioli from scratch!!!! So fun! I will give you a play by play tutorial this week, I promise! I love Philadelphia and new friends!