Recommended Wine Pairing: Laurel Ridge 2017 Chardonnay
Here in Oregon wine country, harvest season is a “round the clock” sort of affair. Fruit is arriving by the ton at all hours of the day and night, from all over the Willamette Valley and sometimes from as far away as Southern Oregon. A full night’s sleep is a luxury, and moment of rest are not guaranteed! When life is this busy, having delicious, filling meals is an absolute must – and let me tell you, “harvest meals” are a real thing here in the wine industry!
Meal prepping – or at least having a plan – is integral to these happy (but chaotic!) times, and is a chance to show our gratitude to our hardworking harvest crew. Our requirements for a Harvest meal is that they should be hearty, warm, seasonal, and absolutely delicious. This warm, cozy pasta has got all the components. It’s the time of dinner that invites you to sit down and relish every bite, whether you have 2 minutes, or 20. Best of all – you don’t have to be harvesting to enjoy it! It’s a great recipe for sharing, or to treat yourself to a little bit of magic on a weeknight.
There are more steps to this recipe than some we’ve posted – we recommend giving yourself a full 30 minutes to prepare this. If you’re feeling intimidated by the diced squash in this recipe, make sure to check out our instructions at the bottom for how to peel and cut a squash (I promise it isn’t nearly as hard as it looks!). Acorn squash is one of those items whose “bark” is far worse than its bite. But we promise – it is surprisingly easy to work with, and your hard work will be handsomely repaid with this delicious meal.
1 acorn squash, cubed
2 tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Cracked black pepper, to taste
1 cup sage leaves
3 cups fresh basil
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (we love a sharp Parmesan Reggiano)
8 ounces sliced pancetta, crisped
Kosher salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
1 pound rigatoni or penne pasta
1.Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2.Toss cubed acorn squash in olive oil, kosher salt, and black pepper. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, or until squash is fork tender.
3.Meanwhile, in food processor, combine basil and sage by pulsing. Once roughly chopped, add walnuts to basil and sage and run food processor continuously until well combined, then add garlic, parmesan, salt and pepper. Set pesto mixture aside.
4.Cook your pasta until al dente, according to instruction. While cooking pasta, lightly crisp pancetta in a steel pan over medium-high heat until the edges brown.
5.In bowl, combine pasta with 1/4 cup pasta water, pesto mixture, and stir until well combined.
6.Top with roasted acorn squash, pancetta, and parmesan.
On cutting the acorn squash…
First, cut your squash in half. Using a sharp knife, begin by pushing the tip of your blade down into the middle of the squash one to two inches, and then gently apply downwards pressure – like a lever. This way you can maintain an even cut, and you do not have to worry about any slippage. Once you have cut all the way through, spin the squash and cut from the other side! Now that you’ve halved the squash, scoop out all the pulp, guts, and seeds. Next, microwave the squash (the whole thing!) for 2-3 minutes. This increases the permeability of the skin, so that it can be more easily removed. Once you remove the squash from the microwave, give it a second to cool – then using a sharp blade (always!), gently cut away the skin. From here, you’re golden – dice away!
But as always, there are a couple of options! On nights that I don’t feel like doing a ton of cooking, the pre-cubed squash packages at Trader Joe’s are cost effective, and a total lifesaver.