They started slowly it’s true. The first few early birds serving as an advance party to warn of the impending invasion. But, as is the way every October, my kitchen is suddenly inundated with squashes. I’m not complaining but I’m quite convinced that if I could eat them morning, noon and night I’d still not make much headway so I’m always trying out new ways to enjoy them. And of course, (somewhat more challenging) for the kids to enjoy them. If left to them they’d veg eternally in their soup/ curry/ cake loop but I get bored and feel obliged to mix things up a bit. A change is as good as a break after all, and surely we all need one of them.
Now, as we all know, super healthy squash works really well if it’s used in combination with all those other autumnal favorites. Think leafy greens or beans of all guises. Never one to do things by halves, I took a braces and belt approach to this recipe and put both in. I used edamame for my pesto, but I wouldn’t think twice about switching in cannelini or borlotti beans if they were all I could lay my hands on. Perhaps the finished result wouldn’t be quite so vibrantly green but with the squash the colours are bound to stay interesting anyway. Similarly I used kale mostly as I suspect it may well be secretly plotting to take over my garden but spinach (skipping the blanching stage) would also be a more than acceptable substitute. The pesto would make a delicious enough mid week supper alone but served this way the various elements all come together perfectly, especially with the addition of the salty Parmesan. But for my children the icing on the cake was without doubt the sausage crumbs; a great way to make very few sausages feed lots of people. The carnivorous equivalent of the feeding of the five thousand if you like.
Autumnal Squash Pasta with Kale and Edamame Pesto and Sausage Crumb Recipe.
2-3 tbsps creme fraiche or soured cream
1 large butternut squash (or similar), chopped into bite sized pieces
600g of pasta (or more if everyone’s hungry)
For the Pesto:
120g blanched kale
1 fat clove garlic
Juice of one lemon
A large bunch basil
Around 50g of Parmesan cheese or to taste
A tsp of sea salt
80 ml olive oil
Start by blanching the kale and preheating the oven to 200 deg. C. Strip the leaves away from the tough stalk, then drop in boiling water for 1 minute. Refresh under cold water then throw in the bowl of a food processor.
Add in all the other ingredients for the pesto, excluding the olive oil and blitz. Pour the oil in slowly until you have the consistency that you’re after. I always loosen mine up with some cooking water from the pasta so don’t worry if it’s thicker than shop bought pesto.
Next roast the peeled and chopped butternut squash. A great tip is to pierce the squash all over then microwave on high power for around two (but up to five if needed) minutes. This makes it about a thousand times easier to peel and takes ten minutes or so off the roasting time. Roast for around 20 minutes or until cooked through.
Now you’re ready to skin your sausages or just squeeze the meat out into a non stick frying pan. The children love to do this bit so feel free to ask for some helpers.
Put a pan of salted water on to boil for the pasta then start cooking the sausages over a high heat, breaking them up all the time with a wooden spoon. Keep going; you want some nicely browned crumbs.
Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions but remove about half a mug of cooking water before draining.
When the pasta is done combine your pasta, pesto, roasted squash, creme fraiche and sausage crumb in the pan. If you feel it needs loosening up a bit stir through a little cooking water.
Check the seasoning and serve with some extra curls of Parmesan.