Up your pasta night game with this recipe for al dente whole wheat spaghetti tossed with creamy Parmesan sauce, roasted delicata squash, crispy speck, and handfuls of arugula and fresh herbs. Copious amounts of fresh ground black pepper are optional.
For a few weeks now, the pile of produce on my counter has felt a lot more autumnal than the actual outdoors. But the weather forecast a few days from now looks promising and the leaves are starting to blush golden and orange – apparently indifferent to the presently sweltering heat – so I’m just getting on with my fall cooking.
For me, this means roasting everything and adding local greens back into the rotation (here in Virginia, most greens bolt in the summer heat and then come back into season in the fall). I love roasted vegetables as a side, always, but my kids are far more likely to eat them if they’re part of the greater meal. Especially a meal that involves pasta, cream, and cheese. I’m going to take the success of this spaghetti with Parmesan sauce, handfuls of greens, and roasted winter squash as a cue to forgo our usual tomato sauce and pasta situation more often.
An Effortless Parmesan Sauce
The Parmesan cream sauce here is a casual kind of sauce – there’s no fussy roux or endless stirring. As such, it’s less stable and should be served just after it’s tossed with the pasta. If you’re planning to serve this for a gathering, the roasted delicata squash and spaghetti can be made ahead of time. Just be sure to reserve the pasta water and make sure it’s hot before tossing with the Parmesan sauce.
I like delicata squash because there’s no need to peel the tender skin and it has a lovely (read: not mealy) texture, but you could absolutely sub in another peeled winter squash here.
- 2 medium delicata squash, halved, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
- 1 tablespoon grapeseed or other heat-tolerant oil
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic granules or powdered garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
- 10 ounces spaghetti (I used whole wheat)
- 2 tablespoons plus 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, divided
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 ounce speck or prosciutto (*optional)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled, and minced
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) coarsely shredded Parmesan
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 2 cups arugula, rough chopped
- 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Toss delicata with oil, salt, and spices. Arrange on a large rimmed baking sheet with plenty of room between slices. Roast 15 minutes, flip squash and roast 10 - 15 minutes longer, until squash is a deep golden hue and edges has crisped up.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add sea salt and spaghetti and cook until pasta is just al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water.
In a large Dutch oven or 3- or 4-quart saucepan over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add speck, cooking just until crispy and fragrant, 2 - 3 minutes. Remove from pot and set on paper towels to cool, then rough chop.
In the same pot, heat the butter over medium-low heat. When melted, stir in garlic. Cook until fragrant, 3 - 4 minutes. Stir in cream, and then the Parmesan. When Parmesan has melted, remove pot from heat. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon sea salt (or add to taste) and pepper. Fold in spaghetti. Add reserved pasta water 1 tablespoon at a time to loosen sauce. Finally, toss with arugula and parsley.
Serve immediately with roasted delicate squash tucked throughout.