One-Pot Wonders

One-Pan Squash, Caper, and Kale Pasta

April 22, 2019
5 Ratings
Photo by Anna Jones
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 18 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

This may not be for traditionalists, but I think this way of cooking pasta is clever—the starch from the pasta water comes together to make a velvety, creamy sauce that you wouldn't get if they were cooked separately. I'm not suggesting all pasta be cooked this way, but when a quick dinner is needed this is where I look.

You can swap in any pasta that cooks in about 8 minutes. I've gone for a whole-wheat rigatoni here, but I've had success with quinoa and corn pasta, too. I use delicata squash, but you could use butternut squash instead—the skin is tougher, so it's best to peel it.

Recipe excerpted with permission from The Modern Cook's Year by Anna Jones, with the permission of Abrams Books. Copyright © 2019. —Anna Jones

What You'll Need
  • 1 small delicata squash (about 14 ounces/400 g)
  • 4 cups (250 g) roughly torn curly kale leaves, stalks reserved
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 pinch flaky sea salt
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 12 ounces (350 g) pasta (I use whole-wheat rigatoni or penne)
  • 2 unwaxed lemons, zested
  • 1/2 14.5-ounce (400-g) can of green lentils, drained
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 vegetable stock cube, or 1 teaspoon vegetable stock powder
  • 2 tablespoons baby capers, drained
  • 1/2 cup (50 g) Parmesan (I use a vegetarian/rennet-free one)
  1. Halve the squash and scoop out the seeds, then thinly slice the squash halves into half moons about 2 inches (5 cm) thick. Strip the kale leaves from their stalks and roughly tear any big pieces. Finely slice the stalks, discarding any particularly sinewy ones.
  2. Heat a tablespoon of the olive oil in a large shallow pan over medium heat and add the squash with a generous pinch of flaky sea salt. Cook the squash in the pan for about 10 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes, so that the pieces of squash start to catch and brown at the edges. Fill the kettle with water and put it on to boil.
  3. Once the squash has had its 10 minutes, add the garlic and kale stalks and stir for a minute or so before adding the pasta, lemon zest, lentils, red pepper flakes, stock cube, and 41⁄2 cups (1 liter) of water from the kettle. Cover with a lid and cook over medium heat for 6 minutes.
  4. Next, remove the lid and add the kale leaves and capers. Cover with the lid for a couple more minutes, until the kale is starting to wilt and turn bright green. If your pasta is a little dry, you can add a tiny bit more water, about 1⁄2 cup (100 ml). Remove the lid and simmer for another 2 to 3 minutes, until the water has been absorbed, then take the pan off the heat and stir in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and half the Parmesan. Taste and add a little more salt if needed, then let sit for a minute or so before piling into bowls and topping with a good grating of the remaining Parmesan.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Kellia Brinson
    Kellia Brinson
  • Leslie McDonald
    Leslie McDonald
  • ComfortableintheKitchen
  • Amy

5 Reviews

Kellia B. January 12, 2020
This ended up being pretty mushy - particularly the kale and squash (which actually just disintegrated). I subbed preserved lemon for the zest and crispy roasted chickpeas for the lentils, which added some nice texture, but I don't know that the boast of one pan is worth it. The flavor combination was delicious though. I would make a version of this again, but use a separate pot to cook the pasta and then add it into the veggies.
ComfortableintheKitchen November 24, 2019
I made this for my daughter, and her friend, and another adult. I followed the recipe with great attention. I would say it's kind of gummy, and while the flavors are interesting, the texture of the kale and squash are kind of hard to deal with. I wouldn't say I would repeat this ever. I am also now stuck with delicata squash which isn't really well named.
Leslie M. October 23, 2019
This was an interesting but less-than-satisfying recipe, in my opinion. My list of grievances: 1) kale is too tough a green for the amount of cooking time allowed - chard or mustard greens or some other medium-weight might have been a better choice. 2) 2 entire lemons zested is 1 lemon too many - the flavor was too strong to actually enhance the other flavors, but instead overwhelmed some of them. 3) More delicata squash would have improved the flavor balance, providing more sweet to the harshness of the kale (again, not the best green option). Also, the directions indicate "thinly slice the squash" and then clarifies that as "about 2" thick". Sorry, but 2" thick is NOT thin. My delicata would have cut into only 4 chunks had I followed that instruction.
Not to come off as entirely critical, this recipe was ok but sorely in need of tweaking.
Amy September 19, 2019
I've made this twice, once with butternut squash and then with delicata. I use chicken bouillon and add some umami paste. I also use more red pepper flakes. There was a lot of water after cooking, so I had to drain some of it out, but next time I'll remember to use one cup less. We are trying to eat more vegetarian meals, and this one is satisfying, healthy, and really tasty.
Clover88 May 19, 2019
So easy and so delicious. I used zucchini. The creamy sauce that comes from the water (and an extra few dashes of olive oil!) were perfect. I would not add any salt at any stage of cooking since the capers and parmesan do that. Adding this to my regular rotation.