Apparently, we’re back in Winter again. Spring was nice, it lasted oh about 12 days. I made a lovely arugula salad and some strawberry shortcake in honor of the warmer weather and I even took a little vacation.
And then, blink! It ended. That was it, folks. Now it’s raining and cold. Easter was… dreary. The heater is on and the cat is napping next to the vent. I haven’t seen the sun in about 36 hours and I’m all bundled up in my down slippers and a big chunky sweater.
Rather than sit by the window and mope while the rain knocks the blossoms off the cherry trees across the street, I thought I ought to do something constructive, like cook. Well really it was that I felt like eating, since I was hibernating and all, so I broke out one of my favorite cold-weather recipes and filled my apartment with the smells of sage, onions, and squash.
Ahhhhh… that feels better.
What? What’s that you say? It’s April? Nah. Can’t be.
Whole Wheat Penne with Butternut Squash and Crispy Sage
8 oz whole wheat penne
1 butternut squash
1 purple onion
1/4 cup olive oil
6 cups green chard, rinsed and roughly chopped
1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts
12 sage leaves, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (divided)
1 (1/2) teaspoon freshly ground pepper (divided)
Preheat oven to 375F.
Cook the penne according to package instructions in salted boiling water.
While the penne is cooking, peel one half of the butternut squash with a vegetable peeler and remove the seeds. Dice into 1/2-inch pieces. (Reserve the remaining squash half for an alternate use.) Peel the onion and dice into 1/2-inch pieces. Place the diced squash and onion in a large bowl and drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkling with 1/2 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper and tossing thoroughly to combine. Transfer the squash and onion mixture to a jelly roll pan, spreading evenly, and bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes or until the squash is tender and cooked through, tossing occasionally to ensure even cooking.
Drain the penne, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid and return to the pan. Add the squash/onion mixture to the cooked penne, toss to combine, and set aside. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper.
Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat (do not add butter or olive oil, heat it dry.) Reduce the heat to medium and place the chopped walnuts in the skillet, tossing them gently until they are lightly toasted. Transfer the walnuts to the penne mixture. In the same skillet, still over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and then add the chard, sprinkling generously with salt. Toss gently just until the chard begins to wilt, then quickly transfer to the pasta mixture.
Wipe the skillet clean and return to medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and bring to a sizzle. Add the sage and fry quickly, being careful not to burn it. Transfer the sage and the oil it was cooked in to the pasta. Toss all ingredients thoroughly and add more salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with more olive oil if needed.
Serve on a chilly springtime day, then curl up in a big blanket and pretend it’s really winter.
April 9, 2009: Big thanks to Marc over at ReadyMade for featuring this recipe as part of Four Course Fridays!!