Recipe by Zack Burke, photos by Laura Gallup.
Winter in the Northeast can make it feel challenging to cook with local ingredients – but this dish started with squash, onions and eggs from the Ithaca Farmers Market in January. I rounded out my FLX shopping trip with bacon and flour from The Piggery and made this dish on a chilly Saturday.
I’ve always loved the taste and texture of butternut squash, so I made it the base of this hearty, winter pasta sauce. And I love that Italian cooking can focus on a few simple ingredients, and still produce something spectacular. Homemade pasta can take a bit of time, so you can easily substitute store-bought pasta if you’re short on time.
If using store-bought pasta, skip this section.
Mix flour and salt into a mound on clean countertop. Create a valley in the center of the flour mound using your fist or a spoon. Crack eggs into valley. Add half of water and half of oil into eggs. Careful not to break the flour walls, use a fork to mix egg, oil and water until combined. Use one hand to keep stirring with a fork, and use the other to pull flour from the outsides into the center of wet ingredients. Once wet mixture is not runny, use both hands to combine everything – and add the rest of the water and oil, and mix into dough. Start kneading and add flour until it no longer sticks to countertop or hands – up to half cup. Make into a ball, wrap tightly with saran wrap and store in fridge for minimum 4 hours, maximum 2 days.
Remove dough from fridge. Divide dough into six sections. Flour each one. Run section through pasta roller on setting 3. Flour on both sides. Send through again on setting 6. When all pieces are flat, run through pasta maker on the linguine cutting setting. Hang each section to dry for at least 30 minutes. After sauce is ready, boil and drain pasta as usual.
2 lbs butternut squash (keep the seeds) from Blue Heron Farm
1/2 lb bacon/jowl bacon/pancetta (thicker cut is better)
3/4 cup diced yellow onion (1 med onion) from Sabol’s Farm
2 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 tablespoons chopped sage leaves
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream
Frozen peas (keep separate from sauce)
1 tbsp olive oil (for toasted seeds)
Peel squash. Cut in half width-wise, so there is one skinny piece and one round piece. Cut each piece in half to expose the seeds. Scoop seeds and guts out of round part. (Rinse seeds in colander to use later.) Throw out guts. Chop flesh into 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch cubes. Dice pork, dice onions.
Add bacon to the bottom of a sauce pan and cook on medium. Remove rendered bacon from pan and set aside, leaving liquid fat. Add onions to fat and cook until onions start to turn translucent. Add minced garlic and chopped sage leaves. Once garlic starts to brown, add chicken stock. Add raw butternut. Boil until butternut is soft. Add in fresh ground black pepper.
Turn heat off once squash is soft. Using an immersion blender, blend entire mixture until smooth, while adding in heavy cream. Add salt to taste.
Cook frozen peas according to directions.
Toasted seeds: Pat dry seeds. Add olive oil and seeds to small saute pan. Cook on medium heat and occasionally stir seeds. Once they start to get color, remove from heat. Careful not to burn
To assemble: add a scoop of pasta to a bowl and layer with butternut squash sauce, steamed peas, toasted butternut squash seeds, rendered bacon cubes and a fresh chiffonade of sage leaf.
Zack Burke is the Executive Chef at LakeWatch Inn in Ithaca, NY.