Pasta with Kabocha Squash and Kale Two Ways

Both kale and kabocha squash are plentiful now through December, so I’ve been buying them regularly and freezing them for the winter.  The kale gets blanched and frozen in ziploc bags and the squash gets peeled and cubed, then frozen in ziploc bags. These are the perfect soup or stew ingredients to have on hand for one of those winter blizzards that we seemed to have had so many of last winter.

Before I froze the latest round of squash and kale, I wanted to use a bit of them for our pasta this evening.  I decided to make the pasta two ways to see which I liked better.The first way involved sauteed pancetta and shallots, with cubes of squash and ribbons of kale (see opening photo).

The second way was entirely vegetarian–cubes of squash sauteed in olive oil, then combined with pasta and topped with a dollop of kale and walnut pesto.

In my opinion, both dishes were excellent, and I urge you to try them both while these ingredients shine.

Pasta with Kabocha Squash, Kale and Pancetta

serves 4

1 lb rigatoni

3 c kabocha squash cubes (approx. 3/4″)

2 shallots, peeled and finely diced

2 oz. pancetta, thinly sliced, then diced

2 tbls olive oil

2 c cooked kale leaves (tightly packed), drained and cut into 1/2″ ribbons

While you’re waiting for the pasta water to boil, place squash cubes in a skillet with the olive oil and saute, covered on medium heat, flipping and turning from time to time until they are tender (about 8 minutes).

Remove and set aside.

While pasta is cooking, in a broad skillet on low heat, begin browning the shallots and rendering the pancetta, for about 7 minutes.

Add the squash cubes and kale leaves and continue sauteing on low heat until the pasta is cooked.  Toss in the cooked pasta plus a half-cup of pasta cooking liquid and saute until combined, about 30 seconds.

Serve with a combination of grated pecorino and parmigiano cheese.

Pasta with Kabocha Squash and Kale Pesto (Vegetarian)

serves 4

1 lb rigatoni

3 c kabocha squash cubes

2 c cooked kale leaves

1/2 c walnuts

1/2 c grated pecorino

1/4 c plus 2 tbls olive oil

combination of grated parmigiano and pecorino

Over medium heat, saute squash cubes in 2 tablespoons of olive oil while waiting for pasta water to boil.

Drop pasta into boiling salted water and make pesto while pasta cooks.

To make pesto, place kale leaves, walnuts, cheese and 1/4 c oil in food processor.

Pulse until a coarse puree forms.

Add some pasta water 1 tablespoon at a time, to thin the mixture to your liking (it may take up to a quarter cup of water).

When pasta is cooked, add to skillet with squash, along with some pasta cooking liquid.  Saute for about 30 seconds until combined.  Serve with a dollop of pesto on each portion, along with a generous sprinkling grated cheese.

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