Leaf Peepin’ Ragù

SERVES: 4

Delicata squash gets cooked two different ways here, to really take advantage of all it has to offer: half of it gets caramelized until just tender, while the remainder continue to cook down until soft and jammy. The jammy bit becomes the thickening agent for this quick ragù, while the tender pieces stay whole, lookin’ all pretty as they tumble around with spicy sausage and rigatoni. But, the real secret to this sauce is mellow white miso paste which imparts a decidedly savory depth of flavor---a perfect foil to sweet Delicata squash and an all around bang up addition to your pantry if it’s not already in there.

Active Time: 45 Mins

Total Time: 45 mins

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Produce

  • 1 yellow onion
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 medium Delicata squash
  • 6 sage leaves
  • 1 lemon

Pantry

  • ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 heaping tablespoon mellow white miso paste
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 pound rigatoni pasta
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)

Dairy

  • 1½ ounces grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Meat

  • 1 pound spicy Italian sausage

1. Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil.

  • Don’t just go adding a pinch--really get in there with a whole fistful. Trust me--it needs it.

2. Do some prep:

  • Finely chop 1 medium onion. 
  • Firmly smash and peel 6 garlic cloves.
  • Thinly slice the garlic. 
  • Cut 1 medium delicata squash in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out and discard the seeds. Cut both halves of squash in half lengthwise again, and then cut them crosswise into ½” pieces. You should have a bunch of little quarter moon-shaped homies when you’re done. 
  • Finely chop 6 sage leaves. 
  • Remove the outer casings of 1 pound of spicy Italian sausage.

3. Build the ragu:

  • Heat a large Dutch oven over medium high heat for 4-5 minutes to get it smokin’ hot. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil to the pot. 
  • Once you start to see wisps of smoke from the bottom of the pot, add the sausage, breaking it apart into bite sized pieces with your fingers as you add it. Cook the sausage, undisturbed, until it is well browned underneath, 3-4 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to continue to break it up into smaller pieces, and give another good stir before transferring the cooked sausage to a plate. (No worries if its still slightly pink and not fully cooked through. In fact, that’s even better, because it will continue to cook along with the pasta and that way we won’t overcook it.) 
  • Add the squash to whatever oil and fat remains in the pot and arrange in a single layer to optimize contact with the bottom of the pot. Season with 1 teaspoon salt, and cook until caramelized underneath, 3-4 minutes. Give the squash a stir, and then scoop out about half of the squash, adding it to the plate of sausage, and leaving the rest behind. (The squash that remains in the pot will continue to cook and break down, giving lots of body and flavor to the ragu.) 
  • Stir in the onions, garlic, and sage, reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until the onions are softened, 4-5 minutes. 
  • Stir in 1 heaping tablespoon of mellow white miso, and ½ cup white wine. Cook, stirring often, until the wine has fully cooked off and the bottom of the pot looks juicy but relatively dry (you’re cooking off the raw alcohol flavor).
  • Remove from the heat.

4. Cook the pasta and serve:

  • Add 1 pound of rigatoni to the boiling water and cook until al dente, according to package directions. Just before draining, scoop out and reserve 1 ½ cups of that goooood pasta water. 
  • Add the pasta to the ragu, along with the reserved sausage and squash and the pasta water. Return the pot to medium heat, and cook, stirring often, and adding 1½ ounces of Parm little by little as you stir, until the sauce thickens, and the rigatoni are nicely coated in jammy clingy sauce. Taste and add more salt if needed. If you like things spicy, this is a good time to stir in some of those optional red pepper flakes. 
  • Stir in the juice of 1 lemon. Divide the pasta among bowls, drizzling each with more olive oil, and grating more parm over top.

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