The plan was different. I was going to make Orecchiette with squash and a garlic-herb sauce but my husband was lobbying for utilizing our hunk of prosciutto. Why hunk? Because we bought a whole leg of italian San Daniele prosciutto and split it between three families so we have a really nice large piece laying in our fridge and we savour it nice and slow. So except for the obvious choice of Bufala mozzarella, tomatoes and prosciutto seasoned with olive oil I also try to incorporate it into cooking; if you want to do the same be careful, do not use salt before you add the prosciutto to your dish, you may come to regret it because when you heat up the prosciutto the flavor becomes more concentrated as the fat melts and it becomes saltier. So back to the pasta…
You will need (for 4 people):
1 small squash – I used a Delicata
1/3 cup cubed (1/2 cm or 1/4 inch) prosciutto
300 gr (approx. 10 oz) Orecchiette or other small pasta
Handful chopped flat leaf parsley
2 cloves of garlic – minced
Parsley oil or plain olive oil and parmigiano reggiano for serving
What to do, what to do…
1) Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C)
2) Peel the squash, remove the seeds and strings and cut it into small (1 cm or 1/2 inch) cubes
3) In an oven proof dish mix the squash with 1 garlic clove, a little olive oil, a small pinch of salt (remember the warning from the beginning of the post) and freshly ground black pepper.
4) Bake the squash for about 10 minutes (maybe 15), until soft and cooked through.
5) Meanwhile boil your pasta water (make sure to time it right so the pasta and squash are ready at the same time) and cook your pasta.
6) While those two are on, put the prosciutto in a pan and saute over medium-high heat (no oil needed) until lightly browned.
7) Drain pasta, mix in squash, prosciutto including the fat from the pan, parsley & the second clove of garlic.
8) Divide between plates, drizzle with parsley oil (or plain olive oil), grate some cheese and fresh black pepper.
*** To make parsley oil (or any other herb oil for that matter):
Chop a bunch of parsley very very fine or pulse it in your food processor, mix in olive oil and a pinch of salt. Let stand for a little while (30 minutes perhaps); strain into a clean dish (squeeze bottle for example) extracting as much pulp and flavor from the parsley and there you have it! For a bunch of parsley I would use approximately 1/2 cup of oil (more or less depending on the intensity of flavor you want to obtain). Keeps well in the fridge.