Thursday, March 27, 2008

Early March: Butternut Squash and Spinach Pasta

As I work on improving my seasonal recipe collection, I'm going to start listing recipes that support seasonal cooking -- that is, those whose primary ingredients are available locally together.

March is not the easiest month for locavores. Autumn veggies are about used up (or quickly becoming unusable unless you have a root cellar) and spring veggies are only available from farmers growing in hoophouses. Here in Cincinnati we're lucky that the butternut squash season lasts late enough that we generally have a few of them still left in late winter and many local farmers do grow spinach in hoophouses over the winter. (Try Lucy from Boulder Belt Farm at the Oxford Winter Market or Greenacres Farm in Indian Hill -- both grow in hoophouses.)

This recipe comes from Dance By The Light, and it's a keeper. Husband and son were fighting over the leftovers at 10:00 at night.

Serves 4

1 butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 onion, chopped
4 slices bacon, diced
1 T chopped fresh rosemary
3 T olive oil (divided use)
Salt and Pepper
1 pound penne pasta
6 oz spinach, rinsed, stemmed and coarsely chopped
2 oz Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss squash, onion, bacon, and rosemary with 1 tablespoon olive oil and spread in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until tender and browned, 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Place spinach in a large bowl. Put a colander over the bowl and drain pasta over the leaves. Let sit 1 minute; drain well and squeeze out excess water from spinach.

Toss spinach with pasta, squash mixture, and remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Toss with Parmigiano-Reggiano and serve.

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