With the weather this cold, I want to cook and eat warm, comfy food. You know, food that makes you feel like you’re wearing fleece pajamas and slippers. This easy dish fills that bill! It’s also something nice and simple for post-holiday, post-party, at-home eating.
Another reason I loved this dish was the ease with which one could use local ingredients. Local winter squash, onions, mushrooms, garlic and pasta are still available at the winter farmers markets. Butter and milk can come from Calder Dairy, and I got the smoked salmon from Bay Port Fish Co at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market. And local, frozen sweet peas!
This past spring, Locavorious was lucky to get a call about shelled sweet peas from the Millers, proprietors of one of the certified organic farms in the Amish community in Homer, Michigan. These shelled sweet peas rarely make it to the Ann Arbor area markets, as they need to be hand-picked, shelled and preserved or eaten very quickly after harvest. The Millers had enough shelled sweet peas beyond their own needs for the Locavorious “Vega-vore” shares, plus a few extra pounds which we’ll bring to the winter farmers markets.
1 small acorn, carnival or other hard squash, or ~ 1-2 cups leftover cooked hard squash
2 or more tablespoons butter
1/2 onion, finely chopped
Handful of fresh mushrooms, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic finely minced or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cups milk
½ cup grated Romano cheese
½ package of Locavorious frozen shelled sweet peas or about 1 cup frozen green peas
Couple ounces of smoked salmon, flaked
Freshly ground black pepper
One lb of your favorite pasta – I used whole wheat shells and rotini
Cut squash in half. Steam or microwave for about 5 minutes until flesh is soft. When cool enough to handle, scoop out and discard seeds. Scoop out squash flesh and mash with a fork. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a large skillet over medium or medium-low heat. Sauté onion, garlic and mushrooms in butter until tender. Incorporate cooked squash into pan by mixing well. Next, stir flour into the pan, mixing to combine it with vegetables, coating them.
Slowly, stir in the milk. Heat the mixture to just below boiling, and then gradually stir in cheese until the sauce is smooth. Add the peas, stir to distribute them, and cook over low heat for about 4 minutes. Toss in smoked salmon, and cook for 2 more minutes. You can either combine the pasta and cream sauce together in a large bowl, or simply serve the cream sauce over the pasta.
Cheesy creamy comfy.