Sisterly love – fettuce with butternut squash, sage and smoked garlic
I could have told you about how good it felt to walk through the lush, green fields of Gloucestershire, wild flowers swaying in the breeze, a spring in my step, the deep blue sky making my heart sing. Or how, once again Gifford’s Circus made my face ache with smiling. Or laughter in a country pub where a small dog’s life was nearly imperiled by a game of Jenga. Or being almost moved to tears by the cool beauty of a collection of statues at a famous country house in Derbyshire. So many good things to share from my two weeks in the UK this summer…and more to come…
But right now, all is well with the world because of dinner at my sister’s kitchen table. I could have angled the dish, got the light right, propped and garnished, made better pics and let it go cold. But instead, I picked up my fork and tucked into the smokey, sweet, savoury, food blanket of comfort. This is a ‘sort of’ recipe, more a recommendation of a simple trio of flavours that work perfectly (quartet if you add the cheese).
We opened a bottle of 2013 La Mascaronne Quat’ Saisons Côtes de Provence rosé (from Raffles in Nailsworth) – light, dry, balanced, soft, perfect summer drinking. As well as the taste, the coral colour went beautifully with the butternut orange.
Our Polish heritage makes us very tolerant of garlic. My sister added both fresh and smoked cloves. The smoked ones are already part cooked and a bit sweet. You can substitute a whole head of ordinary garlic instead of the smoked. Just cut the top off the ends of the cloves, slick with olive oil and roast along with the squash. Squeeze out the garlic when you come to serve. The smoked does add a really beautiful depth of flavour though so I hope you try it.
Fettuce with butternut squash, sage and smoked garlic
- 1 small butternut squash
- 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4-5 cloves garlic (optional)
- 4-5 cloves smoked garlic
- sea salt (smoked if possible)
- freshly ground black pepper
- a generous handful of fresh sage
- 250g fettuce (or dried pasta of choice)
- Pecorino (or similar Italian hard cheese)
- Preheat the oven to 180 C. Peel the butternut squash, halve it and scoop out the seeds. Cut the squash into small, even chunks.
- Toss the squash in the olive oil and spread over the base of a roasting tin. Add the unpeeled whole cloves of fresh garlic if using.
- Put in the oven, turning the squash cubes gently once or twice during the cooking time. After 20 minutes, roughly chop the smoked garlic and add to the squash with some salt and pepper.
- After about 30 minutes, stir the sage leaves into the squash and return to the oven. Keep an eye on the sage as you don’t want it to burn, put some foil over the tray if you think this is happening. Cook for another 15 minutes (until the squash yields easily to the point of a knife or skewer).
- Boil a large pot of water, add some salt. 10 minutes before the squash is done (or time as per the pasta packet instructions) add your pasta and cook until al dente.
- Drain the pasta, stir in the squash mixture and serve with Pec0rino and black pepper.
Variation: For added crunch, toast the squash seeds for about 10 minutes and sprinkle on at the end.
Do you have special memories of a meal that your family shared?