zaterdag 26 juni 2010

Pumpkin/ butternut squash with pasta

I'm a pumpkin fan, and as I've already mentioned I'm always looking for new and interesting ways of serving it. Unfortunately the love of pumpkin never came naturally to the rest of the family- although I do believe they are beginning to warm up to it.
It transforms any meal with its vibrant colour and it's healthy too! And isn't it great that it is no longer just an autumn vegetable.
So if you have a pumpkin or butternut squash sitting on the shelf what about combining it with pasta as part of a main meal?
Pumpkin is actually a traditional filling for Ravioli in Italy. I will be doing a blog about fresh pasta and homemade ravioli but today I wanted a quick meal for three so I used packet pasta. My recipe is all about the things I love, so not Italian just my recipe, so nothing exact just go with the flow. I used purple basil because I could- it is home grown and I thought the colour would be amazing. But traditional basil will do fine. Basil is one of my favourite herbs, but dried basil will just not cut it!

I used AH fresh pesto but you could make your own. In fact nothing beats homemade. Only when you make your own do you get the traditional pesto alla genovese with authentic ingredients like fresh basil, fresh parsley, pine nuts, crushed garlic, grated hard cheese- Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan) /Grana Padano or Pecorino and olive oil. Too often walnuts or cashew nuts substitute the pine nuts (or partly), not to forget use of cheaper oils. There is nothing wrong with experimenting using different nuts (try almond too) but what is wrong is the manufactures claiming the pesto is ‘traditional’ when clearly substitutes have been made. The main ingredients in the AH Pesto I used were 27% olive oil, 22% fresh basil, 20% rapeseed oil, 11% cheese, and merely 7% pine nuts.
This is fresh pesto:

Pumpkin/ butternut squash with pasta (pesto, pinenuts and purple basil)

Serves 3, (adjust accordingly)
220gr pasta
Oil for frying
1 small organic pumpkin, diced (or butternut squash)
1 onion
1 stick celery, finely diced
bacon/ salami (I used a mixture of both but use what you prefer)
1 ball mozzarella, roughly chopped (If you don't have any I'm pretty sure mascarpone would be great too and add a sprinkling of Grana Padano before serving)
1 heaped tsp cumin ground (optional- I love this spice with pumpkin)
chili flakes
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tbsp pesto (green)
purple basil
pine nuts
salt pepper

Remove pumpkin skin and discard seeds. Dice into small pieces (uneven sizes). I liked the idea to get a kind of half puree/ half pumpkin pieces so I chopped uneven pieces to get a good texture.
Cook pasta. Dry-roast the pine nuts in a saucepan. Don't let them burn!
Fry first the bacon and then add the salami in a little oil until crispy. Set aside. In the same oil brown onion. Add pumpkin, celery and 1 tsp cumin and fry for a few minutes. Add some chili flakes and garlic.
Reduce heat and cook gently until tender. Add a big dollop of butter (or olive oil) and the bacon/salami, pesto, pasta and mozzarella cheese heat through.
Serve with a sprinkling of pine nuts and basil leaves.