I'm currently just shy of being three thousand miles away from my home. Three thousand miles away from my yellow chair. Three thousand miles away from the little corner where I attempt to make my sleepy face look a little more human each morning. Three thousand miles from my Trader Joe's. (Oh yes, of course there are Trader Joe's where I am, but not my Trader Joe's.) Three thousand miles removed from my routine.
Since childhood I have been a lover of routine. Sameness. Ah, just hearing that word gives me goosebumps - the happy kind.
Change? No. No. Definitely no. Please no. I can't. No. No. PANICKING!!
Yeah... As you can see, my sentiments for that word are not exactly fond...
Temporary change however, is most welcome, as long as I can plan for it several weeks in advance and absolutely know that my beloved routine will await me when I decide that I have had my fill of newness.
Blah. I sound so boring. I know I have some sympathizers out there, right?
Boring or not, I am comforted by routine and even when I am thousands of miles from my regular day to day life, I try to find little pieces of familiarity to cling to when the homesickness sets in.
Pasta. Pasta can make any place feel familiar and homey.
Oh please, do not even pretend to be surprised. You knew I was going to make this about carbs. I will always make it about carbs. That is why you're here, right?
For this recipe, I changed up my meatball parts list a bit to give them more of an Autumnal vibe. A heavy dose of sage and thyme did the trick and mixed perfectly with the sweet delicata squash.
I like delicata squash because it is fantastic when simply roasted with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper. It's sweet and flavorful on its own and requires little to no adornment.
Depending on your squash, you may want to peel it before roasting. Sometimes the skin can become leathery if it is too thick. I leave the choice to the discretion of the chef.
I wanted to add a little extra texture to my pasta so I toasted up some panko breadcrumbs in a bit of sage butter. I love the crunch that it adds.
Just before serving, I added a bit of fresh baby spinach to the pasta to let it wilt slightly.
This dish is a bit involved, but the steps are simple, and I find it to be almost as pleasant to prepare as it is to eat.
No matter where you are, this dish is sure to make you feel at home.
Three thousand miles ain't no thing when you have your favorite sweater and a big bowl of pasta to take you to your happy place.
Autumn Meatballs with Linguine and Delicata Squash
for the meatballs
- 1 lb 80/20 ground beef
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 cup finely grated pecorino romano
- 2 cloves garlic, grated
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon sage chiffonade
- 1 1/2 teaspoons thyme, leaves stripped from stems
In a large bowl combine all ingredients. Use your hands or a potato masher to mix, until the ingredients are well combined.
Shape the meat into 1-ounce balls and place on a lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. While the meatballs are chilling, prepare the squash.
for the squash
- 1 small delicata squash
- olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Slice the squash into 1/2-inch rings and then slice each ring in half, forming half circles. Drizzle the squash with olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper.
Lay the squash evenly out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment and bake for 30 minutes, or until fork tender. While the squash is roasting prepare the pasta and bread crumbs.
breadcrumbs and assembly
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 sage leaf
- 1/2 pound of linguine
- 4 cups baby spinach
- 1-2 teaspoons olive oil
- grated pecorino romano, for finishing
Preheat oven to 170 degrees.
In a medium frying pan, melt butter over medium heat. When the butter has fully melted, add sage leaf and cook for 1 minute - this will allow the flavor of the sage to release into the butter. Add panko breadcrumbs and toast, stirring frequently for about 3-4 minutes or until golden. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add linguine. Boil for about 10 minutes, until al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, place a heavy frying pan over medium high heat. Coat the pan 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil. When the oil begins to glimmer, add meatballs, several at a time to the pan. Cook, turning often, for 4-6 minutes. Be careful not to let the pan get too hot, otherwise the meatballs with burn on the outside before the meat can cook through. Transfer the meatballs to an oven-safe pan, cover with foil, and place in the oven to keep them warm until all the meatballs are cooked.
To assemble, drain the pasta and toss with spinach and a bit of olive oil. Cover the pasta for about 2 minutes, to allow the spinach to wilt slightly. Toss in meatballs, squash, and breadcrumbs just before serving, then top with a bit of pecorino romano for good measure. Serve immediately. Enjoy!