I moved from Boston to Los Angeles on January 13, 2012. The first few weeks I was here, I pranced about in utter delight that I could step foot outdoors in the winter without having to wear my giant sleeping-bag-of-a-monstrosity puffer coat. Sometimes I chanced it and even went outside without a coat at all. Yeah, I was living life on the edge and totally blissed out. Remember that dance sequence from (500) Days of Summer? That would be me, celebrating the joys of not freezing my butt off (instead of the joys of bedding someone you have a major crush on, which is also worth celebrating, but is not an appropriate topic for this blog).
I think we all know where this going. Flash forward a year and almost 10 months, and I find myself actually wishing for a bit of that New England chill. Fall has always been my favorite season, but in Boston it was particularly glorious. I miss it. I miss the crispness of the air, the brilliance of the foliage, walking through Boston Common and the Public Garden and feeling so overwhelmed by all that beauty. I see pictures of people picking apples and visiting pumpkin patches (REAL pumpkin patches, not like the one in Santa Monica where they basically revamp a parking lot by hauling in pumpkins and hay, and if you squint you can see the Pacific Ocean in the distance, which just brings home how NOT pumpkin patch-y it is) and get really jealous. And I want to wear sweaters and boots and cute sassy coats, gosh darn it. On Saturday, temperatures were in the low 80s and I wore a sleeveless dress. In November. I love you, Los Angeles, but this is unacceptable.
So, since it doesn’t really feel like fall yet even though I desperately want it to be, I’ve been faking it. Whenever temperatures dip into the (high) sixties, I excitedly put on a sweater. I light pumpkin-scented candles. I made a giant pot of chili a few weeks ago. I’ve been wearing flannel PJs. And Emma has fallen victim to all of this as well, as evidenced by the new flannel collar I picked up and have been forcing her to wear.
My latest faux-fall attempt was making this pasta. Butternut squash is one of my favorite fall/winter foods and I especially love it with pasta, though my experience with it in pasta is usually as filling in ravioli. Here, though, it’s cubed and roasted with shallots, becoming slightly caramelized, and then tossed with ribbony pappardelle, arugula, and a generous amount of Parmesan cheese. It’s comforting and filling but not heavy (though you will have shallot-breath), and best of all, the colors in the dish scream fall. It’s the kind of dish you eat in a bowl, curled up on the couch in a waffle-knit tee (one which bears a drawing of a deer, with the words “Oh deer!”) while telling your friend that you’re glad you’re alone in your apartment right now because the way you’re slurping this pasta is downright disgraceful. So basically, it’s perfect.
Pappardelle with Roasted Butternut Squash, Shallots, and Arugula
Makes about 3 main-course servings
3 cups butternut squash, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
6 shallots, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces uncooked pappardelle
3 cups arugula
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
Preheat oven to 475 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In large bowl, mix together butternut squash, shallots, maple syrup, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and salt. Spread in one layer on baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until squash and shallots are tender and slightly caramelized.
While vegetables are baking, cook pappardelle according to package instructions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water. Put pasta back in pot. Toss with reserved pasta water, remaining tablespoon of olive oil, arugula, butternut squash, shallots, and Parmesan.