This past weekend, I had the ultimate pleasure of catering a day-long writing workshop on writing food memoirs. The organization, Girls Write Now, mentors at-risk, underserved teenage girls who are aspiring writers. They are also the only organization that combines youth mentoring and writing instruction in an all-girl atmosphere. I thought the concept was amazing before attending the workshop on Saturday. Now that I've heard and read writing samples by these creative, talented young women, I can tell you that what they are doing at Girls Write Now is truly special and unique.
The girls had a special workshop planned already, with craft talks given by esteemed chefs and writers, Gabrielle Hamilton, Julie Powell and Cheryl Tan. But given the theme of food writing and the holiday season, I thought they also needed some festive food offerings with interesting flavors and textures to inspire their writing even more. They needed holiday cookies. They needed tea sandwiches. And of course, they needed pasta. I've yet to find an occasion, holiday or menu that couldn't benefit from a hearty pasta dish and Saturday was no exception.
This recipe, courtesy of Chef Scott Conant, combines the flavors of the season with interesting texture and bright colors. The butternut squash lends a certain meatiness to the dish, while the crispy pancetta gives a salty bite to each forkful. Torn sage instantly evokes the smells and flavors of the holidays.
Note: This recipe calls for 3/4 lb. of pasta. Never in my life have I opened a box of pasta without cooking the entire pound. For shame. I cooked the whole box and simply upped the quantities of the remaining ingredients here and there. I encourage you to do the same--second helpings will definitely be served.
Penne with Roasted Buttnernut Squash, Pancetta and Sage