…you make homemade pumpkin fettuccine with sage and brown sugar!
My best friend just posed a question to me tonight that I’ve been getting a lot recently. She said “The marathon is so soon! Are you eating pasta all day everyday??” The answer, unfortunately, is no. (Although some people do! I just watched my boyfriend cross the finish line in the NY Marathon in 3:20 on an all pasta diet…but he is a boy, and therefore another story). I, on the other hand, cannot eat pasta to my heart’s content, no matter how many 20 milers I run.
However, my friend Sabrina recently gave me a pasta maker that she never used (thank you Sabrina!). So when someone gives you a traditional Italian pasta maker…well, you make pasta. And if you happened to have run 20 miles that morning…you take seconds :)
I’ve been a longtime reader of the blog Smitten Kitchen and every one of her recipes I’ve tried has been incredible. So after inheriting the pasta maker, I came across her recipe for homemade pasta dough. In this post, she describes how she overcame her fear of the pasta nest.
A fear of mixing flour and eggs together and rolling them into a ball? How hard could it be??
Let me tell you – it’s hard.
And at times you might want to throw your egg and flour covered hands up in the air and give up.
But in the end, it’s worth it (although I now understand the fear). See, the goal of the pasta nest is to combine the eggs with the flour very very slowly – without breaking the nest – to avoid causing clumps to form in the dough.
Somehow, after about thirty minutes of delicately twirling the yolk into the flour, a homemade ball of pasta dough was formed…
We continued to follow the recipe and kneaded the dough for a full 20 minutes before splitting it in two and running it through the pasta maker. The pasta maker was actually the simplest part. First you roll the pasta through a few times to create a flat sheet of pasta, as shown in the picture below. Next, you choose which type of pasta you’d like to make (fettuccine for us), and roll the pasta sheets through that. The final product?
…a huge bowl of fettuccine that not only looked exactly like the backup store-bought pasta we had in the refrigerator, but it tasted a thousand times better.
You’d think that after laboring over this pasta for an hour, we’d just pour store-bought tomato sauce over it and call it a day. But homemade pasta deserves only the best. And the best is my neighbor’s Pumpkin Fettuccine recipe, based on Mercato’s recipe of the same name. Natasha (my new neighbor) recreated this recipe on a casual Sunday night without original measurements or knowing every ingredient, yet somehow it turned out to be the best bowl of pasta I’ve ever had.
And so I was determined to recreate it.
I bought leeks for the first time in my life…
and fresh sage leaves…
and broke out the brown sugar…and chopped up some pancetta…
and coated butternut squash with cinnamon, nutmeg and olive oil and roasted it in the oven for 40 minutes…
and eventually combined all ingredients to create the most amazing bowl of pasta I’ve ever had.
There’s nothing like a romantic dinner with a laptop on the table, wine in regular glasses and flour under your nails, right? :)
Created by my neighbor Natasha
Based on Mercato’s recipe
1 leek (halved then finely chopped)
3 bunches of arugula (very rough chop)
1 butternut squash (peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes)
1/4 lb of pancetta (diced) – Natasha used 1/2 in her original recipe
1/4 cup of maple syrup
1/2 cup chopped fresh sage leaves
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp nutmeg
Salt & pepper
Peel squash and cut into 1″ cubes, then coat with olive oil, maple syrup, salt, pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon. Bake on lightly greased cookie sheet until soft on the inside and caramelized on the outside (about 40 minutes on 350°F) – might need to flip squash halfway through.
Pour a few tablespoons of olive oil into separate pan and add pancetta and sage. Cook on medium until pancetta is a little brown. Add leeks and cook until leeks are tender and pancetta is slightly crispy. Add a little brown sugar, salt and pepper and continue to cook on low.
Remove squash from oven when soft and add to pasta mixture. Finally, add the fresh arugula and mix until arugula is wilted. Check seasonings before serving and adjust as necessary.
(Any store-bought pasta will work for this recipe, but Natasha used pappardelle in the original version and it was incredible.)
Clearly we liked it. And in case you were wondering, red wine, pumpkin beer and pumpkin pasta go very well together…
Oh and….THE MARATHON IS IN 9 DAYS! Off to complete my last “long” run (only 8 miles!). After today, I only have 11 miles – in the form of two 3 milers and one 5 miler – before 26.2. Wow.
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