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Penne with Butternut Squash, Sage and Bresaola

Penne with Butternut Squash, Sage and Bresaola
Bresaola, a salt-cured, air-dried beef fillet, is a specialty of the Valtellina, an Alpine valley in Lombardy. It is usually served thinly sliced, like prosciutto, and eaten as an appetizer. Its taste is a little less salty than that of prosciutto, but its texture is firmer. Bresaola is wonderful in a pasta sauce, but add it at the last minute so it does not cook much, which would spoil its delicate taste. Prosciutto can be substituted in a pinch.

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for
      drizzling
  • 5 shallots, minced
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut
      into small dice
  • Pinch of ground allspice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • Splash of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 lb. penne
  • 8 fresh sage leaves, cut into narrow strips
  • 1/4 lb. thinly sliced bresaola or prosciutto, cut
      into narrow strips
  • 1 cup grated grana padano or Parmigiano-
      Reggiano cheese

Directions:

In a Dutch oven or flameproof casserole dish over medium heat, warm the 3 Tbs. olive oil. Add the shallots and cook until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the squash and allspice and season with salt and pepper. Sauté for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the broth, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the squash is fork tender, about 8 minutes. (Do not stir the squash while cooking or it will break down into a puree. You want to keep the pieces whole.) Turn off the heat and add the balsamic vinegar. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Generously salt the boiling water, add the pasta and cook until al dente (tender but firm to the bite), 10 to 12 minutes.

Drain the pasta well and put it in a warmed large, shallow bowl. Pour on the squash mixture. Add the sage, bresaola and a drizzle of olive oil and toss gently. Sprinkle with some of the cheese and serve immediately. Pass the remaining cheese at the table.
Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Pasta, by Erica De Mane (Simon & Schuster, 2001).