Michael Harlan Turkell
Reprinted by arrangement with Avery Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Nancy Harmon Jenkins and Sara Jenkins, 2015.
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.
While the water is heating, grate the squash on the largest holes of a box grater. You should have about 4 cups of grated squash.
Gently heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet large enough to hold the squash. Fry the sage leaves until crisp, about 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on a paper towel, and reserve.
Add the garlic to the oil, raise the heat slightly, and cook, turning and flattening the cloves with a spatula, until the cloves are brown and have thoroughly impregnated the oil with garlic flavor.
Remove the browned cloves and discard.
Raise the heat to high and add a third to one-half of the shredded squash to the pan. Toss and stir the squash continuously, as if you were stir-frying, for 3 to 4 minutes, seasoning with salt as you toss. The squash bits will soften and give off moisture and some of them will brown and crisp in the hot oil. Don’t wait for the squash to brown thoroughly—it should retain texture and not be cooked to a soft mush. Remove the batch of squash and set aside while you continue with the rest of it. When all the squash is done, combine it all in the skillet and stir in the pumpkin seeds. Turn the heat down to very low or set the squash in a very low (200 degrees F) oven.
Add salt and the pasta to the rapidly boiling water and cook.
Check the squash mixture at this point and if it seems a bit dry (some varieties are dryer than others), add a ladleful or two of the pasta water and mix it in over low heat to render the squash “sauce” creamy.
When the pasta is done, drain and turn it into a warm serving bowl. Mix the squash mixture into the pasta, adding the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Toss to mix well and crumble the sage leaves over the top, adding a liberal amount of freshly ground black pepper.
Serve immediately, passing more grated cheese at the table.