Here’s what I like about this recipe. First, it is unusual and seasonal, which makes for a really appealing dinner on a crisp autumn night. Second, the figs in this recipe are cooked. Fall figs can be a little unyielding and are improved greatly by cooking. Last but not least, I adore Calvados. Calvados matches nicely with the maple syrup and gives a wonderful apple flavor. I serve this pasta with an apple baked in cinnamon and maple syrup. —MJ Lentz
2, depending on how much pasta you like to eat
Kabocha squash mash
Kabocha squash, halved and seeded (for a cook’s treat, you can reserve, wash, and sprinkle the seeds liberally with whatever spice you fancy--curry and cinnamon for example--and roast at 325 for 20 minutes).
Pasta and figs
3 Tablespoons of butter
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
4 leaves of sage, roughly chopped
10 to 15 figs, stems trimmed and quartered (or halved if you are working with smaller figs)
Maple syrup, to taste (about 2-3 Tablespoons)
1 package of fresh pumpkin gnocchi or ravioli (I don’t make my own pasta because it is so easy to buy really excellent fresh gnocchi or ravioli at this time of year)
Cover the halved kabocha squash loosely with aluminum foil. Roast the squash until fork-tender at 425 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on its size and thickness. (You can also put the halved squash in a covered dish and microwave for 10 to 15 minutes if you are pressed for time). Let cool. Spoon the squash from its skin. Add salt and olive oil to taste, and mash lightly. Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
Pasta and figs
In a large non-stick saucepan, melt 3 Tablespoons of butter with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté the sage leaves in the butter/ oil mixture at a low heat, allowing the flavor of the sage to permeate the fats. Add the figs and the maple syrup. Gently sauté for several minutes.
Prepare your fresh pumpkin gnocchi or ravioli according to the package directions. As you boil the pasta in well-salted water, continue to heat the figs gently until they are nicely caramelized. Remove the pasta from the cooking water with a slotted spoon and add it to the saucepan. Cook for several minutes until the pasta is nicely coated in by the sauce. Do not overcook the figs. They should be intact and not cooked apart.
Deglaze the saucepan with the nice slug of Calvados. Cook for 1 minute to allow the flavors to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Spoon some of the squash onto each serving plate, making a patty-shaped dais for the pasta and figs. Pile the pasta and figs on top of the squash and drizzle the extra pan juices on top. Garnish with Parmigiano Reggiano, sage, and parsley.