Roasted squash cavatelli laced with garam masala, dressed in butter, and served with shiitake, crimini, button and oyster mushrooms that have been cooked en papillote. You'll be hard-pressed to find a dish that inspires more comfort and warmth. It's one of the latest recipes by Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot of the beautiful site, Ideas in Food. Check out their article for tips on dealing with unwieldy butternut squash, how to improve the texture of your pasta, and another use for squash seeds. - Arthur Bovino
Editor's Note: If you don't have time to make the cavatelli from scratch, try to buy a similar, fresh pasta and then prepare the Butternut Squash Seed Butter and Grilled Mushrooms en Papillote recipes (they are easy and quick) and serve together. Of course, the original version is the best, but this way is faster and still fresh-tasting.
For the cavatelli:
For the butternut squash seed butter:
For the mushrooms:
For the cavatelli:
Preheat the oven to 350 to 325 degrees with convection, if available. Pierce the squash with a paring knife two to three times. Wrap it in foil and place it in the oven. Bake the squash for an hour, or until it feels tender when you give it a gentle squeeze. Pull the squash from the oven, and let it cool for half an hour.
Set the oven temperature to 300 degrees. Slice the butternut squash in half vertically. Scoop out the seeds and pulp, reserving them in a bowl. Peel away the skin and then weigh out 500 grams of the cooked squash. Any extra can be set aside and be used for another preparation. Put the roasted squash, sherry, salt, garam masala and nutmeg into a medium-sized oven proof baking dish and mix to combine. Put it in the oven and cook until the mixture is almost completely dry, about one hour. Transfer the hot squash to a blender and carefully purée until smooth. Pour the squash into a bowl and cool to room temperature.
Weigh out 250 grams of chilled squash purée. Put the flour and the baking powder into a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the squash purée and use your fingertips to incorporate it into the flour, beginning from the center of the bowl and moving outwards until it forms a soft dough. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. Put the dough in a vacuum bag and seal. Put the dough in the refrigerator to chill for thirty minutes. Alternatively you can wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest for two hours in the refrigerator.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and unseal or unwrap it. Roll the dough out with a light dusting of flour until it is 1-cm thick. Cut the dough into 1-cm squares. Roll each square diagonally along a ridged gnocchi board so that it folds over itself and forms the traditional cavatelli shape. Continue until all the pasta is made. Refrigerate the cavatelli if you are cooking it the same day, otherwise lay flat on sheet pans and freeze. When the cavatelli is completely frozen, transfer them to a zip-top bag and store in the freezer for up to a week. The frozen pasta can be dropped directly into boiling water to cook.
For the butternut squash seed butter:*
Preheat the oven to 350 to 325 degrees with convection, if available. Put the butter and reserved seeds into a medium-sized heatproof pan and put it into the oven. Roast the butter and seed mixture for one hour. Remove from the heat and add the star anise and nutmeg. Let the spices infuse for 20 minutes, then strain the mixture, discarding the seeds and the pulp and reserving the aromatic butter. Cool in a heatproof container and refrigerate for up to a week.
*Note: You can make the butter while the pasta is chilling.
For the mushrooms:
Pre-heat a grill to high, or preheat an oven to 450 degrees. Trim the shiitake, cremini and button mushrooms and cut them into quarters. Trim the stems of the oyster mushrooms and gently break them into bite sized pieces. Cut the squash butter into slices. Put the mushrooms, butter, salt and vinegar into a bowl and toss to season and mix evenly. Lay an 18-inch sheet of aluminum foil on a work surface. Mound the mushroom mixture in the center of the foil. Dot the top with squash butter. Top with another sheet of foil and crimp the edges together to enclose the mushrooms in a sealed package.
Put the foil package on the grill and cook for 15 minutes, or bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil packet from the heat and let it rest in a warm spot for five minutes. Cut the foil package open. Be careful because hot steam will stream out. Add the chopped herbs to the mushrooms and mix to combine.
Cook the butternut squash cavatelli in boiling, salted water for five minutes for fresh, or eight minutes if frozen. Put the cooked mushrooms into a large pan set on medium heat. Add the cooked cavatelli to the mushrooms and cook together for three minutes, stirring occasionally. Add grated gouda cheese to taste and divide onto four warm plates or shallow bowls. Top with a fresh grating of additional cheese and serve immediately.