This pasta takes advantage of one of the only breeds of winter squash that's individually sized: the delicata. It's rich, but not as rich as it tastes, ad it reminds me of good squash or pumpkin ravioli in which the filling has escaped the pasta to become its sauce. In a pinch, you can substitute about 3/4 of a cup of canned pumpkin for the squash. In the interest of full disclosure, I should note here that my preferred activity while eating alone is to read cookbooks and dream of future meals. —Cara Eisenpress
small delicata squash
clove garlic, minced
low-fat or whole milk
pasta (I like whole wheat gobbetti, but use your favorite)
Bring about an inch of water to the boil in a large stockpot. Cut the squash into large wedges and remove the seeds. Arrange in a steamer basket. Steam for 8-12 minutes, until the squash is very tender. Remove the steamer basket and let the squash cool so you can handle it. Remove the flesh from the skin into a small bowl, then mash it well with a spoon.
Meanwhile, fill up the pot with water for pasta and start it boiling.
In a medium frying pan, melt the butter over very low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is golden, about 8 minutes. (Don't raise the heat and try to rush this.) Add the cayenne, nutmeg, and salt and toss to mix.
Add the milk, cream, and mashed squash to the pan, stirring to smooth it all together. Raise the heat slightly, bringing the sauce to the simmer. Simmer over medium heat until reduced, about 7 minutes. When you reach this point, you can add your pasta to the boiling water, so it'll be ready at the same time as the sauce.
When the sauce is reduced and the pasta done, reserve a 1/2 cup of pasta water, and drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the simmering sauce, spooning in reserved water if necessary. Season with pepper and more salt or nutmeg to taste, then scrape into a bowl, toss with the Parmesan, and eat.
I'm the founder, editor, and head chef at the blog Big Girls, Small Kitchen (www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com), a site dedicated to easy-to-execute recipes and stories from a quarter-life kitchen. I'm also the author of In the Small Kitchen published in 2011.