This pasta comes from one of my favorite all-time cookbooks, Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift's The Splendid Table's How To Eat Supper (Potter 2008). The squash and escarole offer lively contrast in flavor, texture and color, and both are set off by the cheese. It was also my first experience roasting greens at a high temperature, and I haven't looked back since.
Makes 4 servings
5 quarts salted water in a 6-quart pot
2 1/2 to 3 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 medium to large onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
3 big handfuls escarole, washed, dried and torn into small pieces
1/3 tight-packed cup fresh basil leaves, torn
16 large fresh sage leaves, torn
5 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tight-packed tablespoon brown sugar (light or dark)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound bow tie pasta (farfalle)
1/2 cup half-and-half or heavy cream
1 to 1 1/2 cups (about 6 ounces) shredded Asiago cheese
Slip one large or two smaller shallow sheet pans into the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Bring the salted water to a boil.
In a big bowl, toss together all the ingredients for the roasted vegetables: squash, onion, escarole, garlic, basil, sage, brown sugar, red pepper flakes and oil. Be generous with the salt and pepper.
Pull out the oven rack holding the sheet pan. Taking care not to burn yourself, turn the squash blend onto the hot sheet pan and spread it out. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the squash is tender, turning the vegetables two or three times during roasting.
As the squash becomes tender, drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook it until tender, but with some firmness to the bite. Drain in a colander.
Once the squash is tender, turn on the broiler to caramelize it. Watch the vegetables closely, turning the pieces often. Anticipate about 5 minutes under the broiler. You want crusty brown edges on the squash, and wilted, almost crisp greens.
Scrape everything into a serving bowl. Add the half-and-half, hot pasta and 1 cup of the cheese. Toss to blend, tasting for salt and pepper. Add more cheese if desired. Serve hot.