Candy Roaster Squash Cavatelli

Candy roaster squash cavatelli from Ilda in North Carolina

In the first days of fall around the mountains of western North Carolina, we get candy roaster squash, which are not only delicious but very versatile for different recipes, from pastas to sauces to desserts. This gem of Appalachia adds a lot to our culture here and to the people who enjoy it. In other words, it makes everybody sweeter. We like to cook the squash in the embers and ashes of a fire. This way, we can cook it slowly and with patience before making the squash cavatelli pasta, which we like to call “gnocchi’s little cousin.”

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Serves 4 to 6

    For the tomato confit:
  • 10 tomatoes, halved
  • 5 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 oregano sprig
  • 1 rosemary spring
  • Pinch of chile flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 cups olive oil
  • For the squash cavatelli:
  • 1-2 whole candy roaster squash (about 2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and roasted
  • 1¾ cups 00 flour, more for dusting
  • 1¼ cups cornstarch
  • 3 eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pinch of grated nutmeg
  • Semolina for dusting
  • Grated pecorino cheese for serving

Make the tomato confit:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. In deep pan or dutch oven, place tomatoes. Nestle garlic, oregano, and rosemary around tomatoes. Add chile flakes, salt, and pepper. Pour olive oil over everything, covering ingredients. Place pan in oven and cook until tomatoes are soft and cooked through, about 45 minutes.

Make the cavatelli:

  1. In large mixing bowl, combine squash, flour, cornstarch, eggs, and seasonings. Knead by hand until smooth dough is formed. Rest for 20 minutes.
  2. Onto work surface and tray or sheet pan, lightly dust with semolina. Turn dough onto surface. With rolling pin, gently flatten dough into even squares, about ½-inch thick. With paring knife, cut dough into ½-inch thin strips. Dust strips with flour. Cut each strip into ½-inch pillows, dust with more flour. Against tines of fork, roll each pasta pillow to create lines. On prepared tray or sheet pan, place finished cavatelli.
  3. In large pot, fill with salted water. Boil. Carefully add cavatelli. Cook until all pieces float to top, around 4-5 minutes.
  4. In large sauté pan set over medium heat, transfer tomato confit. With slotted spoon, transfer cooked cavatelli to pan. Add ½ cup of pasta cooking liquid. Continue to cook over medium heat until sauce is reduced slightly, about 5-7 minutes.
  5. In large serving dish plate pasta and sauce. Garnish with grated pecorino. Serve.
  • Recipe By
    Santiago Guzzetti of Ilda in Sylva, North Carolina
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