Winter Squash

Delicata Squash Carbonara

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 medium delicata squash (about 1 1/2 pounds total)

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

  • 6 ounces pancetta (unsliced; about a 1"-thick piece)

  • 12 ounces bucatini or spaghetti

  • 5 large egg yolks

  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

  • Pecorino cheese (for serving)

PREPARATION:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Halve squash lengthwise, scrape out seeds, and slice crosswise into 1/4"-thick half-moons. Toss with oil in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper.

  2. Arrange squash slices on a wire rack set inside a large rimmed baking sheet; place pancetta on rack next to squash. Roast until squash is tender, hasn't taken any color, and still holds its shape, and pancetta is browned all over (when pressed, it should feel like a well-done steak), 30-35 minutes. Transfer squash to a platter; set aside.

  3. Let pancetta cool slightly, then cut into 1/4" pieces. Pour any rendered fat in baking sheet into a large skillet. Add pancetta and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to a small bowl. Reserve skillet with drippings.

  4. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.

  5. Add pasta to reserved skillet along with 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid and toss to coat, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon.

  6. Lightly beat egg yolks and lemon zest in a large bowl just to combine. Working quickly, add hot pasta to egg mixture and toss vigorously with tongs until a thick, glossy sauce forms, about 4 minutes. (If sauce still looks watery, keep tossing.)

  7. Add pancetta and reserved squash to pasta, season with salt and pepper, and toss everything together.

  8. Shave Pecorino over pasta and top with more pepper just before serving.

Acorn Squash Soup

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 acorn squash (peeled, seeded and cut into large cubes)

  • 1 onion (diced)

  • 2 carrots (sliced)

  • chili flakes (to taste)

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)

  • 5 cups water (plus more if needed)

  • creme fraiche (to serve)

  • chives (minced, to serve)

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

  • extra-virgin olive oil

PREPARATION:

  1. In a large heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat, add about 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the squash, onion, carrot, chili flakes, nutmeg, and season with a generous pinch of salt. Cook for 15 minutes or until the vegetables have broken down a bit and are soft. 

  2. Add the garlic and cook for one minute longer. Add the water and bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes more. 

  3. Blend the soup until smooth and creamy. Adjust seasoning. 

  4. Serve with a drizzle of good olive oil, a dollop of creme fraiche and a sprinkle of chives.

Stuffed Pumpkin

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pumpkin, about 3 pounds

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 1/4 pound stale bread, thinly sliced and cut into 1/2-inch chunks

  • 1/4 pound cheese, such as Gruyère, Emmenthal, cheddar, or a combination, cut into 1/2-inch chunks

  • 2-4 garlic cloves (to taste), split, germ removed, and coarsely chopped

  • 4 slices bacon, cooked until crisp, drained, and chopped

  • About 1/4 cup snipped fresh chives or sliced scallions

  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme

  • About 1/3 cup heavy cream

  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

PREPARATION:

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment, or find a Dutch oven with a diameter that's just a tiny bit larger than your pumpkin. If you bake the pumpkin in a casserole, it will keep its shape, but it might stick to the casserole, so you'll have to serve it from the pot—which is an appealingly homey way to serve it. If you bake it on a baking sheet, you can present it freestanding, but maneuvering a heavy stuffed pumpkin with a softened shell isn't so easy. However, since I love the way the unencumbered pumpkin looks in the center of the table, I've always taken my chances with the baked-on-a-sheet method, and so far, I've been lucky.

  2. Using a very sturdy knife—and caution—cut a cap out of the top of the pumpkin (think Halloween Jack-o-Lantern). It's easiest to work your knife around the top of the pumpkin at a 45-degree angle. You want to cut off enough of the top to make it easy for you to work inside the pumpkin. Clear away the seeds and strings from the cap and from inside the pumpkin. Season the inside of the pumpkin generously with salt and pepper, and put it on the baking sheet or in the pot.

  3. Toss the bread, cheese, garlic, bacon, and herbs together in a bowl. Season with pepper—you probably have enough salt from the bacon and cheese, but taste to be sure—and pack the mix into the pumpkin. The pumpkin should be well filled—you might have a little too much filling, or you might need to add to it. Stir the cream with the nutmeg and some salt and pepper and pour it into the pumpkin. Again, you might have too much or too little—you don't want the ingredients to swim in cream, but you do want them nicely moistened. (It's hard to go wrong here.)

  4. Put the cap in place and bake the pumpkin for about 2 hours—check after 90 minutes—or until everything inside the pumpkin is bubbling and the flesh of the pumpkin is tender enough to be pierced easily with the tip of a knife. Because the pumpkin will have exuded liquid, I like to remove the cap during the last 20 minutes or so, so that the liquid can bake away and the top of the stuffing can brown a little.

  5. When the pumpkin is ready, carefully, very carefully—it's heavy, hot, and wobbly—bring it to the table or transfer it to a platter that you'll bring to the table.

    Serving:You have a choice—you can either spoon out portions of the filling, making sure to get a generous amount of pumpkin into the spoonful, or you can dig into the pumpkin with a big spoon, pull the pumpkin meat into the filling, and then mix everything up. I'm a fan of the pull-and-mix option. Served in hearty portions followed by a salad, the pumpkin is a perfect cold-weather main course; served in generous spoonfuls, it's just right alongside the Thanksgiving turkey.

    Storing: It's really best to eat this as soon as it's ready. However, if you've got leftovers, you can scoop them out of the pumpkin, mix them up, cover, and chill them; reheat them the next day.

Butternut Squash & Barley Risotto with Crispy Sage

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided

  • 1 cup hulled whole-grain barley, rinsed

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

  • 3 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 4 cups peeled, seeded and diced butternut squash

  • 1/2 cup fresh sage

  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

  • 3/8 tsp (1/4 + 1/8 tsp) sea salt

  • 1/4 cup raw unsalted pine nuts

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

PREPARATION:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. In a large saucepan on medium, heat 1 tbsp oil. Add onion and sauté, stirring frequently, until tender, about 4 minutes. Add barley and garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add wine and cook, stirring constantly, until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 1 minute.

  2. Add broth, bay leaf and 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until barley is tender yet still slightly chewy in center, about 50 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, toss together squash, sage, remaining 1 tbsp oil, pepper and salt. Arrange in a single layer on prepared sheet. Bake, without turning, until squash is tender, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with pine nuts. Bake until pine nuts are golden, about 4 minutes more. Transfer sage to a plate; set aside.

  4. In the last 10 minutes of cooking, add three-quarters of the squash mixture to the barley. Once cooked, remove from heat and break up squash completely with the back of a wooden spoon. Add cheese, stirring to combine. To serve, top with remaining squash mixture and sage.

Kale and Wild Rice–Stuffed Winter Squash

INGREDIENTS:

  • Extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 acorn squash, cut in half and seeded

  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 cup wild rice

  • 1 shallot, chopped fine

  • 6 kale leaves, ribs removed and leaves chopped fine

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

  • Zest of 1 lemon

  • Handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

  • 1/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

  • 2 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano

PREPARATION:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

  2. Rub a bit of oil inside the squash and season with salt and pepper. Place the acorn squash cut sides down on a baking sheet. Bake until tender, 35 to 40 minutes.

  3. In a medium saucepan, combine the rice, 1 3/4 cups of water, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 40 minutes.

  4. Swirl a bit of oil in a medium skillet and heat it over medium heat until shimmering. Add the shallot and sauté until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the kale and sauté just until the leaves begin to wilt, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cooked rice, Dijon, and lemon zest and stir to mix well. Cook for 2 minutes more, adding some oil if the rice seems too dry. Stir in the parsley, walnuts, and Pecorino Romano.

  5. Remove the squash from the oven. Spoon the rice filling into each half and serve hot.