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Adjust. Adjust. Adjust. Never ending little adjustments in life to keep one plodding thru. To keep creeping towards the light of better and better days. This week has had fabulous highs – like meeting an artist and his dog, Bill Murray The Pug. And awful lows – like finding out a dear friend’s mother had succumbed to cancer.

Sometimes the adjustments are huge. Like figuring out how to go on another day after the loss of someone you love. Sometimes they are little. And annoying. Like trying to remember all your new passwords after making a life change.

Earlier today, I predicted this would be a multi-martini day in a bubble bath, [adjust. adjust.] and wound up [thankfully] in front of the stove doing something more productive and replenishing. Cooking. It’s calming. Like Yoga, but without awkward [for me] poses. Calming. Like drinking, but without hangovers.

And, despite the truly awful temps in the 90s and the high humidity, today’s meal of choice was not a chilled soup or crisp, cool salad, but pasta and butternut squash. Dreaming of fall days ahead perhaps? Dreaming of wrongs somehow becoming rights.

Orecchiette with Squash, Chiles & Hazelnuts
based a Bon Apetit recipe

  • 12 oz. orecchiette or other fresh or dried small pasta
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ small butternut squash, peeled, cut into ½” pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, divided
  • ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan plus more for serving
  • ¼ cup blanched hazelnuts
  • 4 Tbsp. torn fresh mint leaves, divided
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • I blanched whole hazelnuts with skins in a cup of water in the microwave, then toasted on the stove top in a small non-stick over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until golden, about 6 minutes. While still warm, roll the hazelnuts in a kitchen towel to remove the skins. Let cool, then coarsely chop; set aside.
  • Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.
  • Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add squash and cook, tossing occasionally, until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, just until garlic begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Immediately add ½ cup pasta cooking liquid to keep garlic from burning; reduce heat to low and gradually add butter, swirling skillet and adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until a thick, glossy sauce forms.
  • Add pasta to skillet with squash and sauce and toss to coat. Add lemon juice, ¼ cup Parmesan, 2 Tbsp. mint, and remaining ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes and toss to combine; season with salt and pepper.
  • Serve pasta topped with reserved hazelnuts, more Parmesan, and remaining 2 Tbsp. mint.

P1150611Certainly not life changing. But good. Sweet and savory. Just like life’s adjustments.