I’ve been making versions of this pasta for years. I love the bitterness of radicchio lettuce. Lacinato kale is my favorite green. The butternut squash makes the dish more complex, and the garlicky breadcrumbs with pine nuts adds a lovely texture. This pasta is super healthy. It’s a great way for me to get my kids to eat their greens. It’s both flavor and nutrition packed.
It takes about 45 minutes from start to finish. To save time, I buy peeled and chopped butternut squash from the supermarket. This recipe can easily feed a family of five with a good amount of left overs for the next day.
Here is what you’ll need:
- 1/2 cup olive oil, plus two tbsp. for roasting the butternut squash
- 1 medium-sized butternut squash, cut into little bite sized cubes
- 5 cloves garlic, 2 of them thinly sliced, 3 of them crushed
- 1 onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
- 1 bunch lacinato kale or swiss chard
- 1/2 head of round radicchio lettuce
- 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
- 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
- 1 cup chicken stock or water
- 1 lb. gemelli pasta
- 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- salt and pepper to taste
First, roast the butternut squash. Preheat the oven to 400F. Cut the butternut squash into little bite-sized pieces. Mix in 2 tbsp. of olive oil and spread the squash on a roasting pan. Roast for about 30 minutes, or until browned in places. Be sure to mix the squash about half-way through.
While the squash roasts, add a 1/2 cup olive-oil to a large braiser and turn heat on medium-high. Add the chopped garlic and saute for a few minutes. Add the onions and saute for another 5 minutes. Add the kale, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper, pinch of salt, and a couple of rounds of black pepper. Mix well and cook for 5 minutes. Add the radicchio lettuce and a 1/2 cup of the chicken stock or water. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the stock cooks out. Then add another 1/2 cup of stock. Cook for another 10 minutes or so. Again, the stock will cook out. Be careful not to burn the sauce. If necessary, add more stock. Finally, turn off the heat and add the butternut squash.
While working on the pasta sauce, boil the gemelli pasta until al dente. Be sure to save a 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water to add to the sauce at the end.
Make the garlicky breadcrumbs with pine nuts. Under high heat, melt butter in a small frying pan. Add the panko breadcrumbs and crushed garlic. Be sure the garlic is mixed evenly with the breadcrumbs. Cook for about a minute while making sure the breadcrumbs do not burn. Next, add the pine nuts and a sprinkle of salt. Cook for a further 2 minutes or so while constantly stirring. Take the breadcrumbs off the heat once they get golden brown. Be sure not to burn them.
Once the pasta is ready, add it to the braiser, along with the 1/2 cup of pasta water and Pecorino Romano. Turn the heat on high and mix well for about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the garlicky breadcrumbs and pine nuts on top. Enjoy!