Halloween often brings back fun memories of me as a child. Of course, there were candy and costumes and friends, but it’s my mother’s creativity and ingenuity that makes me smile.
My memory might be a little muddled, but as part of the festivities, my mother had boxes on the terrace, each with a hole large enough for only little hands to fit. She would tell a story of something scary and then motion to put your hand in the box. Sheepishly I would…then…the requisite little girl scream! Cold oily spaghetti would be the brain of some dead old man and peeled grapes would be a bowl of eyeballs. Fun!
Her creativity didn’t stop when I got a little older and a little nerdier. One year I wanted to go trick-or-treating at a friend’s apartment building downtown. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem, except I wanted to be a dictionary (yes, a dictionary). My mother obliged with a perfect likeness made out of a box fastened to me with suspenders. I need not tell you that walking a New York City staircase with a jack-o’-lantern in one hand and a UNICEF box in the other while hopped up on sugar in a box did not end well.
Now an adult, I struggle with a costume and-quite frankly-finding a place to wear it. This year, I am thinking about going as the Mad Foodie, a crazy food writer who steals chicken nuggets from children and recipes from arrogant chefs. I’m thinking a greasy shirt, ketchup in the corners of my mouth, a lobster bib, a pen in my right hand and a nutcracker in my left…too much?
And (in a witchy voice) what will I be eating for Halloween?! I found this perfectly easy and ghoulish-looking pasta dish that is perfect for the night. Of course, I made a few modifications.
2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sage leaves, plus more to garnish
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound black linguine or spaghetti
(squid or cuttlefish ink pasta)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees with rack in middle.
Toss squash with garlic, sage, red pepper flakes, oil and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a 17-by-11-inch sheet pan. Roast, stirring once until vegetables are just tender and browned in spots, 25 to 35 minutes.
While vegetables finish roasting, cook linguine in a pasta pot of well-salted boiling water until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain pasta and return to pot.
Remove sheet pan from oven and pour reserved water over vegetables, stirring to loosen from pan. Stir in roasted squash to pasta in pot and toss to combine. Finish with a generous sprinkling of cheese.
Enjoy, get eating and thanks for reading!
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Kysha Harris is owner of SCHOP! which is available for weekly service or for home entertaining. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Email kysha@iSCHOP.com.