About two months ago my entire kitchen – along with every other room in the four bedroom Colonial Revival home I’d lived in for the past 10 years — was packed into a seemingly endless pile of boxes and loaded onto a long distance semi trailer truck, headed for New Jersey.
It took a few professionals less than a day to wrap and pack it all, but here I am, these many weeks later still sliding razor blades, sticky from packing tape, along the tops of the few remaining boxes.
Settling into a new space is a process. As I unpacked pots, pans, dishes and so many spoons, spatulas and whisks along with them I also found things that I didn’t know I had and had no idea I needed. Like about a thousand bamboo cocktail skewers, for example. And 3 dozen souffle cups.
“Why do I have all this stuff?” I wondered over and over…the whole experience left me a more than a little traumatized. I made a promise to myself that from now on I need to imagine the inevitable exit of every single thing I bring into my house.
Cooking in my new kitchen has progressed from the baby steps of basic survival meals. I’ve been inspired by food shopping. There are fantastic markets here, so well-stocked I have to restrain myself…all I need to do is remember how I gave away my pantry while we were packing a few months ago.
One night I riffed on a recipe from Heidi’s 101 Cookbooks, a roasted delicata squash, chile and mozzarella salad. Delicata is only around for a few months (right now) and I’m always glad to see it. The beautiful, striated green and sunset yellow skin is tender enough that there’s no need to peel it — I sometimes just scrape the skin randomly here and there to remove blemishes — and the flesh roasts up tender and very sweet.
I made the salad-y meal more substantial the first time I made it by serving the salad over whole wheat spaghetti, using feta cheese instead of mozzarella. Today I had some cute mezzi rigatoni the folks at Delverde pasta sent for me to sample. They are literally rigatoni cut in half, a nice bite-sized shape to complement the chunky roasted squash.
- 1 delicata squash (about 1 pound)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 shallots, peeled, halved and sliced lengthwise
- 1 garlic clove crushed
- 1 dried chile de arbol, crumbled, or 1 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- ½ pound mezzi rigatoni or rigatoni
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
- Fresh washed baby greens, such as spinach, kale or arugula
- Heat oven to 425 degrees.
- Trim the stem and root end off the squash and slice it in half lengthwise. Slice each half in half again. Scrape a spoon along down the length of the pieces to remove the seeds and cut into ½-inch wide chunks. Put the squash in a large mixing bowl.
- Add olive oil, salt, shallots, garlic and chili to the squash and toss together. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and roast 20 -25 minutes; the squash should be tender and nicely brown. Drizzle the balsamic over the squash as soon as it comes out of the oven and stir around gently with a spatula.
- While the squash is roasting, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; cook the rigatoni until al dente. Drain the pasta and return to the cooking pot along with the cream and Parmesan. Add the squash to the pasta along with a few handfuls of greens and toss together – serve hot.