I realized today this blog seems a bit carbo-phobic. It’s time to fix that. But not just with any ole pasta recipe. This particular dish is made from scratch, full of complex carbohydrates and simply bursting with warming flavors. Because in Denver at least, it’s still snowing.
Winter squash, such as butternut, boosts energy and improves blood circulation. It is high in beta-carotene, vitamins A and C, magnesium and potassium. This beautiful orange colored squash is also a great source of complex carbohydrates, which help regulate blood sugar. Just looking at it cut in half, all bright and orange, makes me feel warm already.
The twirly, nestled noodles of this dish are called soba noodles. You can make this recipe with whichever type of pasta you happen to have in your pantry. Soba noodles are special however, because they are made with buckwheat, which is a gluten free seed related to rhubarb and sorrel. This power seed contains eight essential amino acids, including a large amount of lysine making it a great source of protein for the meal.
2 small butternut squash
1 dash extra virgin olive oil
12 whole sage leaves
sprinkling of salt and pepper
1 Tbsp white miso or nutritional yeast
Vegetable Stock or water
1 package soba noodles
4 small shallots, thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
6-10 sage leaves, thinly sliced
Another dash of extra virgin olive oil
Another dash salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Peel, seed and cube the butternut squash. Place in a large bowl and toss with 12 sage leaves, olive oil, salt and pepper to coat. Spread this mixture out onto a cookie sheet in a single layer and bake, stirring every 15 minutes, until squash is fork tender, probably 20-30 minutes, depending on the oven.
2. When the squash is tender and delicious, scoop the cubes (and sage leaves) into a blending device or Vitamix. Add a bit of water or vegetable stock – enough to allow the blender to mix up the squash. Then blend, adding stock until you obtain your desired consistency. I prefer my squash puree a bit on the thick side. Add the miso and a sprinkling of sea salt and pepper and blend until well mixed.
3. Cook the soba noodles. You can bring salted water to a boil and cook them like you would regular pasta noodles, or you can cook them in the traditional Japanese method. This involves bringing salted water to a boil, and adding the soba noodles when the water is at a rolling boil. Stir immediately to prevent the noodles from clumping. Then, when the water starts to boil again, add enough cold water, usually about 1/2 cup, to keep the water from coming back to a boil. Stir occasionally Repeat this process 2 -3 times until noodles are cooked. Strain and rinse the soba noodles immediately under cold running water. Then toss with a tiny bit of olive oil and set aside. Soba noodles are high in starch and this traditional cooking method will ensure your noodles don’t end up one giant sticky lump.
4. Heat a small pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the olive oil. Then add shallot, garlic and sage slices. Season with sea salt and pepper. Allow to caramelize, stirring occasionally. You may have to adjust the heat to medium-low to prevent the mixture from burning.
5. Pour some of the butternut squash sauce onto the bottom of your plate. Twirl the soba noodles into a lovely nest on top and garnish with some caramelized goodness. Relish in its elegant simplicity and warmth, and enjoy as winter slips away with every bite.
Soundtrack: Trail of Dawn by Slow Train