Recipe by Philip Krajek
Orecchiette with Squash, Chiles, and Hazelnuts
If we've learned one thing from Rolf & Daughters, our pick for the #3 Best New Restaurant of 2013, it's this: Homemade pasta is worth it. So worth it, in fact, that we're challenging you to make homemade orecchiette…on a Monday.
Seriously! The texture of fresh pasta is unparalleled, the process is a blast, and you can even make extra and freeze it for next Monday's dinner. We love it with small, chopped veggies and nuts, as in this recipe with squash, chiles, and hazelnuts. All those little bits get caught in the orecchiette (Italian for "little ears") and make every bite-or heaping spoonful-a little more satisfying. -Danielle Walsh
ORECCHIETTE WITH SQUASH, CHILES, AND HAZELNUTS
There are two hits of chile in this dish. It's used early on to infuse the oil, where it mellows. The sprinkle added at the end is more "precocious," says chef Philip Krajeck, Rolf and Daughters, Nashville. "It's not in every bite, but when it hits you, it makes a big impact."
12 oz. fresh orecchiette (see Fresh Pasta) or other fresh or dried small pasta
2 Tbsp. olive oil
½ small butternut squash, peeled, cut into ½" pieces (about 2 cups)
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, divided
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
¼ cup grated Parmesan plus more for serving
¼ cup blanched hazelnuts
4 Tbsp. torn fresh mint leaves, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350°. Spread out hazelnuts on a small rimmed baking sheet and toast, tossing occasionally, until golden, about 6 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop; set aside.
Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente (about 5 minutes for fresh pasta). Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add squash and cook, tossing occasionally, until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, just until garlic begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Immediately add ½ cup pasta cooking liquid to keep garlic from burning; reduce heat to low and gradually add butter, swirling skillet and adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until a thick, glossy sauce forms.
Add pasta to skillet with squash and sauce and toss to coat. Add lemon juice, ¼ cup Parmesan, 2 Tbsp. mint, and remaining ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes and toss to combine; season with salt and pepper.
Serve pasta topped with reserved hazelnuts, more Parmesan, and remaining 2 Tbsp. mint.
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