If fall could be made into a dish, this simple pasta creation would be it. Pumpkin, so plentiful during this time, sliced and roasted until the tops begin to caramelize. Bright, cold-hardy Swiss chard wilted with olive oil and garlic. Seasonal ginkgo nuts with a delicate, nutty flavor. A generous drizzle of olive oil. A light-handed grating of aged cheese. All of this, atop tender whole wheat penne. What more could you ask for?
Ingredients (serves 3-4)
3-4 servings of whole wheat penne
1-2 pounds pumpkin or winter squash
15-20 chard leaves
10 ginkgo nuts per person
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
Aged white cheddar or Parmesan, grated
Cracked black pepper and salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Slice the pumpkin or winter squash into manageable wedges, careful to scoop out the pulp and seeds to reserve for later meals. Place on a baking sheet, skin side down, and roast in the oven until tender and the tops have begun to caramelize (about 40 minutes). Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool. Once cool, remove the skins and slice the flesh into bite-size pieces.
Cook the ginkgo nuts on the stove top until they open. Shell the nuts and set aside.
Cook the pasta until al dente, then drizzle with olive oil to avoid the pasta sticking together.
While the pasta is cooking, remove the stems of the chard and tear them into bite-size pieces. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat and add the garlic, stirring until it becomes fragrant. Turn the heat to low and add the chard, stirring until all pieces are wilted.
Assemble everything still warm – the just cooked pasta, just wilted chard, and pieces of tender pumpkin (if they are too cool, give them a brief saute in the chard pan). Place up to ten ginkgo nuts on each plate. Finish with a light grating of cheese, and a bit of salt and pepper.