plate of squash pasta

Pasta with Squash Sauce pairs with Roasted Leeks for a filling autumn meal. Karen Schneider

My acupuncturist once told me that as the temperatures drop and the seasons change, we should just consume cooked vegetables and save the raw salads for spring and summer. She explained that our bodies use a lot of energy to stay warm and some of that energy is also used to heat up the food we eat before it can be digested properly. It makes sense to me; that’s why I stick to soups and steamed or roasted vegetables until the spring thaw.

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundy’s Harbor. You can reach her at [email protected]

Seasonal vegetables and simple herbs combined with pasta make a beautiful, easy meatless meal. Once the squash has been roasted, you have a decision to make. You can put it in the blender and puree it with stock until you have a satiny sauce. You can also serve the squash au naturel in its golden caramelized chunk phase over buttered pasta. My particular preference is to puree a portion of the squash, toss it with the pasta, then garnish the dish with the remainder of the squash that was left in chunks.

Slicing the crisp-on-the-edges leeks into smaller pieces and adding them to the sauced pasta is also quite delicious and makes a one-bowl meal. As always, adjust the variety of herbs and the amount you use to your liking. You may also want to try herb-infused olive oil.

Be sure to save room for dessert! Pumpkin frosting sandwiched between chocolate whoopie pies is on offer. It is October, after all, and we must have more pumpkin spice things in our lives, don’t you agree?

Pasta with Butternut Squash Sauce

4 cups butternut squash, cut into 1-inch cubes

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

2 tablespoons butter

2 cups vegetable or chicken stock

Cooked spaghetti, linguine or other hearty pasta

Shaved Parmesan for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place squash on a large shallow baking pan. Add olive oil, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Roast for 40 minutes until squash becomes soft and caramelized, stirring halfway through cooking time.

Transfer to a blender and add broth. Start blender on low then increase to high speed until smooth. Blend in butter. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Add more broth if needed for desired consistency. Reheat if necessary.

To serve, toss with pasta and top with Parmesan and freshly ground pepper. Yield: 4 servings

Roasted Leeks

4 medium leeks, white and light green parts, split length-wise

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon Herbs de Provence

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

1/3 cup chicken or vegetable stock

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the leeks with olive oil, Herbs de Provence, salt and pepper. Roast until tender and browned, 35-45 minutes. After 10 minutes of roasting time, add a few spoonfuls of broth to the leeks to keep them from drying out and repeat as needed. Yield: 4 servings

Chocolate Whoopie Pies with Pumpkin Cream

Cookies:

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 egg yolks, beaten

2 cups flour

6 tablespoons cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add eggs yolks and combine. Sift together dry ingredients. Add alternately to butter mixture with milk and vanilla. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto baking sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool 2 minutes then remove to racks and cool completely.

Filling:

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups confectioner’s sugar

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

For the filling, beat cream cheese and butter together with an electric mixer until smooth. Slowly beat in confectioner’s sugar. Add pumpkin, vanilla and cinnamon and beat until completely incorporated. Spread a tablespoon of filling on the flat side of a cookie then top with another cake, pressing down until filling reaches edges. Yield: 12-14 whoopie pies

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