Creamy Pasta with Roasted Squash and Sauteed Mushrooms

Creamy Squash Pasta 20

I think this dish will make your Friday night, especially if it’s one of those nippy nights that is a portent of cold evenings to come.  This will serve a family of six happily.  Here’s how I did it, but feel free to add your own flair.

Creamy Squash Pasta 1

To begin with, roast 2 heads garlic and half an orange kabocha squash with olive oil and salt and pepper at 450°F for about 40 minutes.

Creamy Squash Pasta 2

While that’s on the go, dice up 2 small onions, and slice up a whole package of white mushrooms.

Creamy Squash Pasta 3

And grate a 150g package of asiago cheese.

Creamy Squash Pasta 4

When the squash is roasted, chop it up into little cubes after peeling off the skin.

Creamy Squash Pasta 5

I popped the roasted garlic cloves out of the head and sliced them up as best I could.

Creamy Squash Pasta 6

Here I defrosted about 2/3 cup of the frozen pesto we have on hand (if you grow a lot of basil, you make a lot of pesto).

Creamy Squash Pasta 8

Now, this is not a sauce you want to make well in advance.  I suggest making it right before you serve it and your pasta water is already on the boil.

In a skillet, melt a knob of butter with a dollop of olive oil over medium high heat.

Creamy Squash Pasta 9

Add in your mushrooms and sautée them until they’re browned.

Creamy Squash Pasta 10

Chuck those mushrooms in a bowl for now.

Creamy Squash Pasta 11

Add your diced onions to the skillet and cook until softened.  Then you can chuck the mushrooms back in, together with your garlic and roasted squash.

Creamy Squash Pasta 12

Give that a stir.  Already it smells amazing.

Creamy Squash Pasta 13

Then chuck in your pesto, as well as 4oz (half a 250g package) plain cream cheese.  Stir that until it’s all melted and lovely.

Creamy Squash Pasta 14

Pour in about 3/4 cup whipping cream, as well as 1 cup milk (or any combination of dairy you wish — that was just the amount of cream I had to get rid of).

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Add the cheese and stir until melted and incorporated.

Creamy Squash Pasta 16

Toss with your cooked pasta and serve immediately.

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You can garnish it with whatever you wish! Even nothing!

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Soy-Dijon Roasted Chicken Thighs

Roasted Chicken Thighs 14

I found this recipe online and halved it for a quick fall dinner to showcase a home-grown squash given to us by our neighbours.

Preheat your oven to 350°F.  Set 6 chicken thighs (with bones and skin still on) in a baking dish.

Roasted Chicken Thighs 1

Mix together 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 3 tablespoons dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small bowl.

Roasted Chicken Thighs 2

Pour that over the chicken, turning the thighs to coat them completely.

Roasted Chicken Thighs 4

Mix together 2 tablespoons fines herbes (or an acceptable substitute — I used half Newfoundland savoury and half herbes de provence) and 2 teaspoons fennel leaves.  Add in some salt and pepper as well.

Roasted Chicken Thighs 6

Sprinkle that evenly over your chicken and cover it with foil. Bake the chicken like that for 45 minutes.

Roasted Chicken Thighs 7

Remove the foil and baste your lovely thighs in the juices they’re producing.  Scrape the bottom of the dish a bit to make sure nothing is getting stuck there.

Roasted Chicken Thighs 9

Pour 1 cup chicken stock into the dish so the tops of the chicken thighs are still exposed but they are otherwise happily bathing in broth.  Bake that for a further hour, and let the tops caramelize.

Roasted Chicken Thighs 10

When they’re ready, drain the juices into a gravy boat to serve separately, and have some lovely fall vegetables (like this roasted squash) as a hearty side.

Roasted Chicken Thighs 13

O Canada: Quebec Three Bean Soup with Bannock

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

When you type in searches for French-Canadian soups on the internet you get a plethora of results.  “Plethora” is one of my favourite words.  That and the Spanish “desafortunadamente,” which gets me every time.

Jess sent me this beauty, passed down from the Iroquois nation.  I decided, however, that the ingredients were slightly too close to the hodgepodge I made earlier, and I want to give you guys some variety.

There are also a ton of recipes out there for a yellow split pea soup that is quintessentially French-Canadian.  Turn the peas green and you get pea soup from the Maritimes.  Thicken it up a little and steam it in a wee bag and you get pease pudding from the Atlantic.

I dislike all pea soups.  Sorry.  You won’t see one here.

If you happen to Google “French-Canadian bean soup” you get further interesting results.  Apparently, Arthur Flegenheimer (who went by the name of Dutch Schultz), was a rum-runner and all-out nasty mobster during Prohibition in the US in the early part of the 20th century (as a bit of Canadiana for you, pretty much all the contraband booze smuggled onto American soil during that time came from Canada, which wasn’t really into teetotalling).  Anyway, while using the men’s room at a New Jersey hotel, Schultz was repeatedly shot.  It took him about two and a half hours to die of his wounds, and when the police arrived to arrest the dying man, one of the officers recorded his words.  One sentence involved “French-Canadian bean soup.”  Who knew?  These words have been turned into all sorts of literature, most notably that of Hunter S. Thompson.  Weird stuff.

But we’re making soup here, not discussing books.

I cobbled together a recipe from here, here, and also from Jess’s suggestion above.

Preheat your oven to 400°F.

First, I got myself some local fall vegetables, some sweet potatoes and an acorn squash.  Use whatever squash you like.  Or none at all.  Soups are pretty fluid, both conceptually and literally.  Ha.  Ha.

Slice up your squash and remove the seeds.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Slice up some sweet potato too.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Roast them until they’re browning at the edges and fragrant, about 45 minutes.  Remember to flip them every once in a while.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Meanwhile, drain and rinse 3 cans of beans.  I used romano, white kidney, and chickpea.  Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) seem to be consistent throughout these recipes, so I would make sure to use that one.  But other people use cannelini beans and lima beans and whatever else they have on hand.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Dice up an onion.  I have two halves of a red and a white so I’m going with that one.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Chuck the onion in a large saucepan with some minced garlic and some dried herbs, such as basil, and sauté until tender.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Dice up some carrots and celery and add those to the mix.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Plop in the beans as well.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Add 1 can diced tomatoes.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

When your roasted vegetables are ready, peel off their skins, cube them up, and chuck them into the pot. Don’t fret too much about cutting up the squash super small — it will fall apart and smush itself as it simmers in the pot.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Cover with vegetable or chicken stock and season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and allow to simmer for 30-40 minutes.

Now for the bannock.  As a child, on every field trip we went that involved learning some aspect of Canadian history (the Goldrush, the Fur Trade, the Potlatch, the Salmon Fishery …) we ended up making bannock on green peeled sticks over a campfire.  Every.  Time.

As a result, bannock in my mind will forever taste of ashes and stick.

But you can make it in a skillet too.  To avoid the taste of raw stick and ash.

Apparently, bannock is a Scottish flatbread, stolen from the Romans so very long ago.  If you squint your eyes you can kind of see how the Latin panecium can be bastardized into the Gaelic bannock.  Sure.  But remember that so many different cultures make a form of flatbread.  It’s some form of grain or bean flour plus water and heat and boom – flatbread.   The First Nations people of Canada, in the course of their various interactions with European settlers (good or bad), adopted and adapted bannock such that it is also recognized by many to be part of a bunch of First Nation food traditions.  Because it’s bread.  Everyone eats bread.

Some recipes for bannock use dried milk powder and shortening to fluff up the bread, but I firmly believe that this should be a flatbread, made with the barest minimum of ingredients.

So.  Dry ingredients.  Mix together 1 cup flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 tablespoon sugar, and a pinch of salt.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Add enough water to form a dough and mix thoroughly. This will be dependent on the moisture content of the air and your flour. I added probably half a cup to this one. You want the dough to be slightly tacky.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Divide the dough into appropriate serving sizes and flatten into patties.  Feel free to wrap a patty around a stick and shove it into a fire.

Or you can slip the patty onto a hot buttered skillet and fry, flipping halfway through, until both sides are golden brown.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Serve with honey, butter, jam, salsa, soup, spaghetti … whatever you want. It’s bread.  It’s flexible.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

More Words on Bannock

Art of Manliness: Baking in the Wild

Family Oven: Bannock

M.E.C. on Bannock

WikiHow on Bannock