Red Kuri Squash Torchio with Pancetta, Caramelized Onion and Sage
I love the sweetness and density of red kuri flesh. You can sub kabocha or butternut squash if you can’t find red kuri and you can sub plain torchio or the pasta of your choice if you can’t find pumpkin torchio. Balsamico mosto cotto is a cooked balsamic must that is sweet and much less tangy than balsamic vinegar. If you can’t find it, place 1 cup young balsamic vinegar in a pan, sweeten it with ¼ cup sugar and reduce to a syrup for similar effect. Serves 4
- 1 ½ - 2 pound red kuri squash or other fine grained winter squash
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 ounces pancetta, finely diced
- 1 medium onion, sliced into thin wedges
- 4 medium sage leaves, finely julienned
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 250 g (about 8 ounces) pumpkin torchio pasta
- 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
- Balsamico mosto cotto
- Shaved parmesan to serve, optional
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
2. Carefully cut squash in half. Scoop out seeds and cut into 8 wedges. Peel the wedges with a peeler then cut squash into ½ inch pieces. The squash is very hard so if you feel you are in peril cutting it with a knife place the squash in a plastic bag and throw it on the floor to break it apart and then proceed with the cutting process.
3. Place the squash in a bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss again. Spread out onto a sheet pan in a single layer. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden and tender. Remove from oven and cool. Reserve at room temperature for up to 4 hours. May be made 1 day ahead and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use.
4. Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and then pancetta. Cook until the pancetta is translucent and exuding its fat but not browned. Reduce heat if the pan starts to smoke.
5. Add the onions and stir well. When the onion starts to brown, reduce the heat and stir frequently until the onions and pancetta are fried and golden, about 4 to 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Drain off excess fat into a heat proof dish.
6. Add the squash to the onion mixture. Stir to combine evenly and reserve in the pan.
7. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water so it tastes like the sea. Add the pasta and cook al dente according to package directions.
8. While the pasta is cooking, add the sage and butter to the squash mixture and heat until the butter is melted. Transfer the pasta from its cooking water directly to the pan. Add a ½ cup of the pasta cooking water and toss or gently stir with the squash mixture until evenly combined. Add additional pasta cooking water and toss to make a creamy and glistening sauce. The pasta should slide easily from the spoon and not be sticky or clumpy. Spoon into individual bowls or a serving platter. Drizzle with balsamico mosto cotto and sprinkle pine nuts over. Serve with shaved parmesan on top or on the side.