Sunday, June 7, 2015

Kid Approved Pasta with Squash

Pasta & Squash & Panna

Squash and Stickers???

Before I illustrate a popular, kid-friendly pasta dish that I have been preparing for years, might I first lodge a complaint??

Whoever invented those maddening stickers that are now pasted on most fruits and vegetables at the market should be sent to jail! And I mean fully incarcerated -- for a long time!   I don't know about anyone else, but these vexing stickers are incredibly annoying to remove from the produce, often leave a sticky residue, are definitely not organic and are simply unsightly! Is there no other way for the check-out personnel to identify their fruits and vegetables?? Jeepers!!

Ok, onto a pasta fave...

I like to boast that my daughter loves fruits and vegetables.  When cooking at home, I always make sure that, in addition to the main dish,  every meal consists of a large green salad and at least one side of green vegetables -- thankfully, it is all devoured by everyone in the family.

Many children, it seems, have an affinity for squash!  So, in honor of that, I proudly present this simple, crowd-pleaser. It's delicious:

Here is what you will need:

6 small to medium sized green squash (not too big, please)
1 large onion (or 2 small onions)
1 pound of pasta (my favorite, Sfoglini, pictured above, is made here in Brooklyn, and is delectable)
Penne pasta or bowtie pasta pairs well with this dish
1 cup freshly graded parmesan
1 cup of cream -OR- 1 cup of panna (pre-made bechamel found in Italian specialty stores)
1 tablespoon of olive oil

Note: If you have enough lead time, order the Italian Panna da Cucina (Italian cooking cream) online:

It makes this dish much more robust, and unopened, can also be saved for months.

Dice the onion and cube the squash. 

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan.

Trick: Add one small piece of onion. If the onion sizzles, the oil is ready.

Add the rest of the onion.

Note: It takes about 8-10 minutes to cook this sauce, or about the same time that it takes to cook the pasta.  So at the same time that you start sautéing the onion, put the pasta in boiling water.

Once onion is soft and translucent (about 2 minutes) add the diced squash and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the panna (or cream) and stir into mixture.  Season the sauce with salt and pepper (to taste).

Using the water from the cooking pasta, add 1/2 cup to the cooking squash.  This will thin the sauce. Continue to cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add more of this water until desired consistency is achieved, but is should not be too soupy.  

Add the cooked (al dente) pasta directly into the sauté pan with the squash.  Cook together for 1 more minute.

Serve with freshly graded parmesan.

My daughter enjoys pasta and squash so much that she rendered it in ceramics class! Similar, right?

Tip:  When using freshly graded parmesan, be sure to take it out of the refrigerator at least a half hour before using.  It is best if the rind is a bit sweaty, this is when the flavor is ripest.

Buon appetito! 

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