Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Local Heroes: Pasta with Squash, Tomatoes, and Sage
One of the perks of living at my parents' house (besides getting to watch Castle on their big TV and having my mom offer to do my ironing for me) is having unrestricted access to the full lot of vegetables they get every week from Roots and Shoots Farm. The farm is just a few minutes up the street from their house, so these vegetables are super-mega local, at least while we're living here.
As with any CSA share, some of what comes in our weekly allotment of vegetables is a bit of a mystery. For example, I'd never cooked with delicata squash until I made this dish. In fact, when I pulled the squash out of the vegetable drawer I had to ask my mom what exactly it was. My squash consumption pretty much defaults to butternut at all time.
The other exciting thing about this meal was the pasta. When we went grocery shopping last week, Mom and I were instantly taken in by this triangular penne-style pasta which, apparently, is called "trenne". I cooked the whole small package of pasta for this dish and can report that it behaved pretty much exactly like penne. It was a good vehicle for the very chunky sauce that I made from the squash and some local tomatoes that came from the grocery store.
And guess what else? Fresh herbs! On the back deck my dad has cultivated several giant planters full of great herbs. I pillaged his basil plants on Sunday night in the name of pesto, and I was delighted to get back out there to get some sage and rosemary for this dish.
I don't usually do fancy garnishes for my dishes, but I'd just read about fried sage so I decided to give it a shot. I was a bit hesitant to bite into the first leaf I fished out of the hot oil, but it turned out to be a perfect little addition to the meal. The leaves end up with a subtle flavour and a very attractive crunch. My dad and the Man of Science left theirs on their plates, thinking they weren't edible, but my mom and I harassed them until they finally ate the leaves and admitted to their deliciousness.
Pasta with Delicata Squash, Tomatoes, and Sage
1 medium delicata squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped
3 medium tomatoes, diced
1/2 pound of tofu, cut into bite sized squares
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, (leaves pulled off the stems) or 1 tbsp dried
6 leaves of sage
3 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
approximately 4 cups small pasta (like penne or, in this case, trenne)
8 leaves of sage
4 tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2/3 cup soup stock
Heat oven to 375 degrees*
In a large pan (a glass lasagna pan worked for me) combine tomatoes, squash, tofu, olive oil, rosemary, sage, salt, and pepper and stir them a bit to distribute everything equally.
Place in the oven for approximately forty five minutes or until the squash is tender. Stir every fifteen minutes.
In the meantime, boil the pasta in salted water until it is al dente. Drain and set aside.
When the pan of squash etc is cooked, leave it to cool for a minute or two then remove the six whole sage leaves and discard them.
Heat the four tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat until you can flick a drop of water into it and hear it sizzle. Add the uncooked eight sage leaves and leave them for about five minutes, until they turn a darker green colour. When you take them out of the oil they should be fairly rigid and crunchy, but not burnt.
In the remaining oil, saute the shallots and garlic until the onions are translucent. Add the squash, tomato and tofu mixture and let cook for a couple minutes, stirring regularly.
Add the soup stock and mix well. Cover and let cook over low heat for ten minutes to let the flavours do their thing.
Mix pasta into vegetable mixture. Stir until all pasta is coated.
Garnish with fried sage leaves. Serves four with a bit leftover for lunch.
* My parents' oven is, according to them, "about ten degrees colder than what it says" and they haven't ever felt the need to get an oven thermometer to confirm. This makes me sort of bananas. I'm going to buy them an oven thermometer. All this to say, my temperature instruction for this recipe is the result of me setting the oven to 385 degrees and assuming that means it was actually 375 degrees. BUT NO ONE KNOWS FOR CERTAIN!