Happy Autumn & Ravioli with Roasted Butternut Squash

In case you haven’t noticed, summer is over. We’re way past Labor Day and Columbus Day has come and gone. For those in denial or clinging to one last vestige of hope, you can tell it’s really autumn in New Hampshire when …Foliage-Pleasant-Lake

The days are shorter. Probably the worst sign of fall; it’s dark when I get up. The sun is low in the sky and a good bit of my sunny backyard is not so sunny. On the positive side, the sunlight is soft and golden and the trees are vibrant shades of red and yellow. Set against a bright blue sky, the colors are astounding. Even on a gray or rainy day, the foliage is positively brilliant. And on misty mornings, it is magical.

A new breed of tourists has arrived. Throughout the summer, families sporting Lake Sunapee t-shirts and flip-flops doubled our little town’s population. Now, instead of minivans and SUVs, enormous buses fill the highways and byways. These buses are packed full of senior citizens. Dubbed leaf peepers by the media and dead leaf watchers by my dad, they pile into the State to oooh and ahhh at our amazing foliage. Before they leave, they snap hundreds of photographs to share on Facebook and Instagram and stock up on apples and maple syrup.

Football fans are reveling. Giddy with excitement, they rush around first thing on weekend mornings. By one o’clock, that lawn’s been mowed, errands are done and the garage is swept. Why the hurry? Simple, their Saturday and Sunday afternoons and evenings are fully booked with gridiron competition.

Try as we might, some of us can’t drum up much enthusiasm for football. Don’t worry; Hollywood is pumping out a whole host of new films. Human interest stories, edge of your seat espionage, gangsters and iconic legends replace summer’s blockbusters. Blockbuster types, don’t despair. The force will be with you at Christmas.

pumpkin_people_NLFD_01Scarecrows are everywhere. And I mean everywhere. Up and down Main Street, they are riding bicycles, serving coffee and trick or treating. They add a bit of charm and whimsy to the town. I hope our leaf peeping visitors enjoy them as much as I do.

If you’ve been to the beach lately, even on a sunny day, you realize that bathing suit season is definitely over. (Definitely a good thing for some of us.) After a few false starts and stops, you reluctantly put away the t-shirts and flip-flops and drag out the turtlenecks and heavy socks. After resisting and shivering for days, I’m finally wearing a jacket and gloves on my early morning walks. All the layering will get old by mid-winter but, for now, you’ve missed your favorite wooly sweater and that ancient tweed jacket.

And finally, autumn is all over the menu at your favorite restaurants. At home too. Admit it, you’ve felt an uncontrollable urge to rummage through your cookbooks for soup and stew recipes. All that rummaging sends you to the market for something to roast or simmer; squash, Brussels sprouts or a whole chicken. You bake a cake or an apple pie. You can’t help yourself; out on the town or at home, everyone’s taste buds crave cozy cuisine.

Enjoy the fall. Unlike the New Hampshire winter, it won’t last long. Bon appétit!

Ravioli with Roasted Butternut Squash
Who doesn’t crave squash in the fall? This hearty pasta dish is delicious after a brisk hike or game of touch football. Enjoy!
Butternut_SquashServes 6 as a main course, 12 as a starter

About 2 ounces (2-3 slices) thick cut bacon, finely chopped
7 tablespoons butter
1-2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
About 2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 – 2 pounds fresh or frozen cheese ravioli
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon cognac
Garnish: crumbled goat cheese, toasted hazelnuts and chopped chives

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter over low heat in a large ovenproof skillet, add the bacon and cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Whisk the vinegar into the skillet, add the squash, season with pepper and toss to coat. Roast uncovered at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Add the onion, toss to combine and cook 15-20 minutes more or until the vegetables are tender.

The vegetables can be roasted in advance and reheated before serving.

Cook the ravioli according to package directions in a large pot of boiling, salted water.

While the ravioli cooks, cook the remaining butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. When it begins to brown, add the sage and thyme and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the butter is golden brown. Remove from the heat, whisk in the cognac and season with salt and pepper.

Drain the pasta and transfer to a larger platter or individual plates. Drizzle the raviolis with browned herb butter, top with roasted vegetables and sprinkle with goat cheese, bacon, hazelnuts and chives.

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One Year Ago – Hearty White Bean & Tomato Soup
Two Years Ago – Cherry-Pistachio Biscotti
Three Years Ago – Tagliatelle alla Carbonara
Four Years Ago – Carbonnade á la Flamande – Beer Braised Beef & Onions
Five Years Ago – Braised Beef Bourguignon
Six Years Ago – Pumpkin Cupcakes
Seven Years Ago – Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What about you? What do you, are you elated or down in the dumps with the change of season? Let’s start a conversation.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2015

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