Follow these simple recipes to add just the right amount of flavor to any celebration.
Pappardelle with butternut squash purée, candied pecans and ricotta
What better way is there to welcome the fall than with an autumn-themed potluck? It’s the joy of sharing the anticipation of brisk air, changing leaves, hot cups of tea and pajama pants. But above all, it’s the beauty of preparing a meal with friends and then eating and drinking until your jeans feel tight. Try this recipe for pappardelle – thick pasta ribbons – with a rich sauce of butternut squash and sage, topped with dollops of ricotta cheese and candied pecans. Warm and hearty, it’s the perfect dish for a fall evening.
1 medium-sized butternut squash
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
3-4 tablespoons butter
Sage leaves, chopped
Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
Apple juice or water
1 lb pappardelle pasta
5-7 tablespoons ricotta cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Peel the squash, cut it in half and remove the pulp and seeds using a spoon. Wash and dry the seeds. Chop the squash into 1-inch pieces. Lightly coat the pieces in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and spread evenly on a foil-lined baking sheet. Cook for 20-30 minutes or until tender, turning once.
3. In a blender or food processor, purée the squash with a drizzle of olive oil until smooth. In a pan, sauté the garlic and shallots in butter and add the purée. Add the sage, Parmesan cheese and salt, thinning the mixture out to the desired consistency with apple juice or water. Include a drizzle of honey if you desire a sweeter taste.
4. Boil a pot of salted water. Lightly coat seeds with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt. Roast in the oven until browned and crunchy.
5. Once the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook for six to eight minutes, or until al dente. Strain and add to the sauce, stirring to readjust sauce consistency.
6. Candy the pecans by cooking them in a pan with butter, salt and loads of sugar. Be careful, because they burn easily. Remove them from the pan immediately and set aside to cool.
7. Top the pasta with the candied pecans, toasted squash seeds, ricotta cheese and sage.
Steamy Hot Scot
2-3 shots of organic apple juice
Cloves (about 1 pinch per serving)
Whiskey (I used Black Velvet Canadian Whisky, sold for $10 at The Market at Columbia Plaza)
When a friend introduced me to this Scottish cocktail, I knew it would be the perfect drink to greet the fall. It traditionally features whiskey mixed with steamed apple juice and honey, but I added pungent cloves and aromatic orange peel for an autumn twist.
1. Peel an orange and cut in half.
2. Heat the apple juice, cloves and orange halves in a pot until scalding.
3. Add a drizzle of honey and a shot of whiskey.
4. Serve in a mug or glass with an orange peel for garnish.