Of the Earth: A new recipe amid leftovers galore

  • Any holiday leftovers have been repurposed in Wesley Blixt’s Greenfield household, such as this turkey broth. For the Recorder/Wesley Blixt


For the Recorder
Published: 1/8/2019 4:53:19 PM

We are entering the second week in January, and 2019 is already shaping up as The Year of the Leftover. Leftover news, leftover weather, leftover regrets and aspirations. But most of all, leftover food.

We’ve done everything we’re supposed to do to stretch things out without running afoul of our newly-acquired food safety values. All the old squashes have turned into soups. All the old sauces have been frozen.

Most notably, we took the turkey carcass and whatever disheveled spices and vegetables we could find — shriveled celery, carrots and peppers; sprouted onions, garlic and shallots; scraps of ginger and turmeric; the little rosemary tree from Foster’s Supermarket (red bow removed) — and we simmered them for about 12 hours.

In the process, we created a perfectly reduced, filtered, translucent, collagen-rich broth: the pure distillation of leftovers.

As satisfying as that is, the whole leftover scene is beginning to wear thin. Of the remains, things that were green are turning faintly yellow, yellow things are turning faintly brown and brown things are turning faintly green. And so on. We are beginning to feel like the goats at Danny Botkin’s Laughing Dog Farm, shown in a front page photo in the Jan. 5 Greenfield Recorder, who were devouring a leftover Christmas tree. Is this what it comes to?

In the midst of all these leftovers, I’ll offer a recipe for something new: Sara Cummings’ pasta with butternut squash and pine nuts. You may remember Cummings as she recently shared her grandmother’s apple pie recipe for another column. And if you try either dish, you won’t forget it.

Pasta with Butternut Squash and Pine Nuts


2 T butter

2 T pine nuts, toasted

1 T fresh sage, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

2½ cups vegetable or chicken broth, divided

1 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded and shredded

1 T sugar

¾ tsp. salt

½ tsp. fresh grated nutmeg

½ tsp. black pepper

12 oz. uncooked penne pasta

1 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese, divided

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat until lightly browned. Add the pine nuts and sage; remove from heat and save.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add garlic and sauté.

Reduce heat to medium. Add one cup of stock and squash to the pan. Cook for 12 minutes until the stock is absorbed, stirring occasionally.

Add the remaining stock, half a cup at a time, stirring occasionally until each portion of stock is absorbed. Stir in the sugar, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Cook the pasta and drain, saving half a cup of pasta water.

Combine the pasta and squash mixture in a large bowl. Add the reserve pasta liquid, butter/sage mixture and ¾ cup cheese.

Toss well. Sprinkle the remaining cheese. Serve immediately.

This pasta does not reheat that well the next day. Note that last instruction well: that means no leftovers!

Please continue to send me recipes and story ideas, so that “Of the Earth” doesn’t become just another leftover.

The Cutting Board

Quabbin Harvest, in conjunction with the Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust, will host the third in its series of free monthly workshops with local farmers on Tuesday, Feb. 5, from 3 to 5 p.m. at its 12 North Main St. location in Orange. Participants will learn how to decorate homemade shortbread cookies for a Valentine’s Day treat.

The goal of the workshops is to help support farmers year-round after the growing season has ended, while providing fun, family-oriented educational opportunities that help people connect with the farmers producing their food. The workshops are funded in part by a grant from the New England Grassroots Environmental Fund. All necessary tools and materials will be provided.

The remaining three workshops, held at the same time and place, are “Intro to Herbalism” with Carol Joyce of White Buffalo Herbs on March 5; “Seed Starting” with Tony Leger of Foothill Farm on April 2; and “Local Smoothie Making” with Rachel Gonzalez of Rachel’s Everlastings on May 7. To learn more, contact Katharina Kowalski or Jamie Pottern at farmconservation_americorps@mountgrace.org or 508-858-6640.

Wesley Blixt lives in Greenfield. He is a longtime reporter and is the author of “SKATERS: A Novel.” Send him recipes, stories and suggestions at wesleyblixt@me.com.

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