I want to be Martha Stewart when I grow up. This has been my life’s aspiration as far back as I can remember. And I don’t really know why. My mother did not subscribe to her magazine, nor did she tune into her various television programming. I couldn’t tell you at what point I found out that Martha Stewart existed, let alone what her whole M.O. was. Yet somehow, I figured out she was someone who knew what was up.
She is someone who seems to do it all, and do it all on her own. No, I know she has a staff of 18 million, but she knows how to do everything on her own. When I’ve caught episodes of her shows, she’s been harvesting honey from her beehives, making ice sculptures, and, of course, icing a wedding cake (jump to 2:14) with Julia Child. All without breaking a sweat, I might add.
A couple of weeks ago, I took a baby step toward becoming Martha Stewart. I started getting into a serious rhythm in the kitchen. It’s one that has allowed me to have a constant stream of homemade desserts, as well as homemade croutons in the pantry. And one that has allowed me to stress less about making dinner, because I’ve got it all laid out.
I’ve always planned my meals in advance, but lately, I’ve been giving the recipes a close inspection long before I walk into the kitchen. As such, I knew that this pasta dish required me to roast butternut squash. And that was not in my plans the night butternut squash and bacon pasta (from this book that is more than worth the $13.00 bargain price at which it is currently listed) was scheduled to grace the table. No sweat. I had plenty of time to prep the squash the night before. When I set about to make dinner the following evening, all I had to do was assemble a meal, rather than cook one. Martha in the making, I tell you.
To make enough for 4, you will need:
- 1 butternut squash, peeled, halved, and seeded, cut into bite-sized cubes
- 1/2 C diced yellow onion
- 1 T olive oil
- 3 T unsalted butter
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 lb. orecchiette, penne, or fusilli pasta
- 6 slices bacon, chopped
- 1 T chopped fresh sage
- 1/4 C walnuts, lightly toasted (or not if you don’t feel like it)
- 1/2 C grated parmesan
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a rimmed, foil-lined baking sheet, toss together squash, onion, and oil. Arrange in single layer, and dot squash with little pieces from 1 T butter. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 45 minutes, or until golden and tender, stopping halfway through to rotate the pan. (You can do all of this the night before, put the mixture in an airtight container, and save it for the following day.)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Researve 1 cup pasta water. Drain pasta and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat large saute pan over medium heat. Add bacon and saute until most of fat renders out, and bacon is crisp. Pour off half fat and discard. Add sage, and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add squash mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, till heated through, about 2 minutes. Add nuts.
Add hot pasta, remaning butter, and 1/4 C of pasta water. Stir to combine. If pasta seems dry, add more reserved water as necessary. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to serving dishes and sprinkle with cheese.