In honor of this blog’s four-year anniversary week, I decided I’d highlight some favorite recipes from the archives. You see, when we first got the blog going, we knew nothing about food photography. As a result, there are these total gems from the past that just sit there getting dusty in the archives, all because their lead photos aren’t up to to snuff anymore, now that the internet food world is so, well, sophisticated. Now that yellow-y glop doesn’t pass muster on a Pinterest board.
If you’ve hung around here a while, you might know BGSK’s creation myth. A burst of inspiration following Thanksgiving led to this, our first post, about a party Phoebe and I had thrown for our best friend, Jordana. A lot has changed since then, not least the internet’s aesthetic. I hadn’t met Alex, let alone married him, I was a vegetarian, and I’d lived in Brooklyn for all of a month. And I was very fond of sautéing lots of garlic in butter, and then turning that fragrant base into a pasta sauce.
This warm, nourishing bowl of squash and pasta was first published in October 2009, a year into our blogging adventure. I’m not sure I’ve made the dish since then, but I’ve craved it often. It’s formerly known as Inside-Out Ravioli Pasta (a mouthful!), which I even hesitate to link to, because man did I have some lighting and framing issues back then. I apparently had blog formatting issues too. Still, the recipe is a gem.
Damn, could I fashion a delicata squash, a handful of tube pasta, and some milk into a delightful pasta dish in just over half an hour! That I could do then! Now, I followed my old recipe almost exactly to the letter, adding in a couple clarifying directions but that’s it.
Creamy Squash Rigatoni
This recipe makes a pretty rich plate of pasta. There will be a moment when you think the sauce won’t come together, but just let the liquids reduce, and you’ll see everything thicken and become saucelike. Add the reserved cooking water a little at a time, so the sauce never gets too thin to coat the pasta.
1 medium delicata squash (about 12 ounces)
2 teaspoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup low-fat milk
2 tablespoons cream
6 ounces rigatoni – slightly less than half a box
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
Freshly ground pepper
Bring about an inch of water to the boil in a large stockpot. Cut the squash into large wedges and remove the seeds. Arrange in a steamer basket. Steam for 8-12 minutes, until the squash is very tender. Remove the steamer basket and let the squash cool so you can handle it. Remove the flesh from the skin into a small bowl, then mash it well with a spoon.
Meanwhile, fill up the pot with water for pasta and start it boiling.
In a medium frying pan, melt the butter over very low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is golden, about 8 minutes. (Don’t raise the heat and try to rush this.) You’ll want to push both butter and garlic all the way to one side of the pot, since there’s not that much of either. Add the cayenne, nutmeg, and salt and stir.
Now carefully add the milk, cream, and mashed squash to the pan, stirring to smooth. Raise the heat slightly, so the sauce simmers. Simmer over medium heat until reduced, about 12 minutes.
When you reach this point, you can add your pasta to the boiling water, so it’ll be ready at the same time as the sauce.
When the sauce is reduced and the pasta done, reserve a 1/2 cup of pasta water, and drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the simmering sauce, spooning in reserved water if necessary. Season with pepper and more salt to taste, then add half the Parm and mix in. Divide between two bowls, sprinkle with the rest of the Parmesan, and serve.