Gemelli with Butternut Squash and Prosciutto

The Midwest. Sometimes it still surprises me that I live here, a state my grandparents fled for the sunshine and mountains of Southern California when my mom was five. A city I’d never given much thought to when fantasizing about exotic backdrops for my life. But sometimes, somehow, I find myself in love with it, as I did today, driving through the hazy industrial cityscapes that girdle the freeway on my way into work. Each morning, I move through the knot of the Loop, its overly designed metal caverns, to the open eastward swatch of sea (can you call a lake a sea?), with the sun still lazing upward. The light was weak this morning and cast a peach haze, which, against the burnt reds and siennas that the leaves are wearing now, was lovely. Nearing campus, only a few miles from the Loop, I pass shingled craftsmen houses, runners, strollers, people waiting for the bus. It’s so quick to move from the overwrought to the provincial in this city. The strained and complicated city core gives way to the quieter rhythms of middle America. It’s an interesting metropolis.

All that is to say that landscape has always hit me heavily, and Chicago’s tends to offer an armature for the seasons, which drape themselves greedily over everything else. So, in a fall state of mind, I offer this recipe. Squash, prosciutto, toasted walnuts, sage, caramelized onions. The salty meat and nuts are great companions for the sweet squash and onions, and it all comes together in robust deliciousness. A dish to match windy fall nights in Chicago. Angela came over last week (or the week before?) and we concocted this based on ingredients we each had on hand. Then we drank much wine.  Then we went out for more wine. Then I had to eat the leftovers for breakfast the next day to soak up all the wine.

foxy lady

foxy squash (+ kitchen elvis)

hunk of meat

Gemelli with Butternut Squash and Prosciutto
1 butternut squash, peeled, cored, and cut into chunks
4-5 sage leaves
4-5 garlic cloves, peeled and diced
salt and pepper
olive oil
1 lb. gemelli pasta (or alternative)
1 lb. prosciutto, diced into chunks
1 onion, peeled and sliced
1 c. walnuts, chopped
parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a baking dish, combine the squash, garlic, sage, grated nutmeg, salt, pepper, and oil. Pop in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until tender.

Coat a cast iron or heavy-bottomed pan with oil and a pat of butter. Turn the burner to low-medium, and add the onions. Slowly caramelize them until they are melty, golden, and putty in your hands. Set aside.

In the meantime, bring a pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta per the package.

Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet. During the last few minutes of the squash’s cooking, place the walnuts in the oven and toast until lightly browned and they have released their aroma.

Drain the pasta, reserving a bit of cooking liquid. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, onions, squash, prosciutto, and walnuts. Add a few tablespoons of the cooking liquid and oil as needed. Serve with parmesan cheese (and, if you feel adventurous, you could add goat cheese or gorgonzola).


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About Kate Soto

5 responses to “Gemelli with Butternut Squash and Prosciutto”

  1. stina says :

    This looks GOOD. What could I use in place of butternut squash. After making a gigantic batch of BS soup, I realized I hate it.

  2. Kate Soto says :

    You could use sweet potatoes. Turnips. Beets. Anything chunky and roastable.

  3. Kate Soto says :

    And I hate that you hate butternut squash. It’s like buttah!

  4. fishtwins says :

    you are not only a brilliant writer you are apparantly a creative and excellent cook I wish I lived within tasting distance.

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