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Kabocha, crème fraîche & sage pappardelle

This season I’ve been trying my hand at different squashes than pumpkin, as much as I love my old standby. This recipe uses kabocha, an Asian variety of winter squash that’s almost unfairly sweet — I loved it. But you should feel free to use whatever puree you have on hand, from a good old can of Libby’s to butternut, acorn squash, or delicata.

If you’re wary of the high number of egg yolks in the pasta, try 2 cups flour and 4 large eggs instead — though it may be difficult to roll it out by hand to your desired thinness. A pasta machine would be best in that case. And of course, feel free to use storebought fresh pappardelle or substitute your favorite pasta recipe.

Scale

Ingredients

for the pappardelle (adapted from Jeffrey Steingarten):

for the sauce:

Instructions

  1. Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center, and add the egg yolks. Stir with a wooden spoon until it comes together into a dough. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until smooth and elastic, about 5-10 minutes. Wrap in plastic wrap or place in a Ziploc bag and let rest for 45 minutes to an hour.
  2. Cut dough into several pieces. If rolling the pasta by hand, place one portion of the dough on a well-floured surface and roll it out into as large a rectangle as you can manage, then fold the sheet in half or into thirds and roll it out again, and repeat as many times as you’re able. This can be tough by hand (though probably tougher for me than it should have been!) so just do it as many times as you can comfortably manage, rolling the pasta sheet as thin as you can each time. If using a pasta machine, see this post for instructions on how to prepare this recipe.
  3. To cut the noodles, generously dust the sheet with flour, then roll the sheet up into a log, cinnamon-roll style, and slice using a serrated knife to your desired width. Tajarin is technically a very thin-cut noodle, but I went with wider pappardelle here. Once sliced, unroll the individual noodles and toss generously in flour to make sure it doesn’t stick together. Set aside.
  4. Melt the butter over medium-low heat in a large saucepan or wok. Add the sage leaves and cook, stirring, until butter browns and sage leaves are crispy (about 2 minutes). Remove the sage leaves and set aside. Add the kabocha, creme fraiche, nutmeg and cinnamon and stir until smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. Turn the heat to its lowest setting to keep the sauce warm while the pasta cooks.
  5. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to boil, then add the fresh pappardelle. If handmade, it should take no longer than 1-2 minutes for the pasta to cook. Generally, the pasta is done when the noodles float to the surface.
  6. Use a pasta claw or tong to remove the pasta and add it directly to the sauce, letting some of the starchy water come with it. Toss the pasta until well-coated in sauce. If you’ve turned the heat off, you may want to turn it back to low for this step. Add another ladle or two of the pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce. Garnish with the reserved sage leaves and a handful of chopped walnuts or almonds, if desired. Serve immediately.

Notes

To make your own kabocha puree, use a sturdy knife to slice the kabocha in half. Lightly oil the cut sides, then place on a baking sheet and bake at 450 for about 40-50 minutes, or until kabocha is tender. Scoop out the seeds and use a food mill or food processor to puree.