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Fall Into Italy with a Bowl of Penne Ritorte with Veal Bolognese and Butternut Squash

When the seasons change and the fall harvest begins no meal is more perfect than a bowl of pasta. Versatile, healthy and satisfying, pasta is an all-time favorite and truly one of the the great foods of the world. You can create lots of different dishes with it and when properly made and cooked pasta never disappoints. A classic comfort food, unpretentious by its vey nature, pasta is the soul of the Italian kitchen.

Durning this time of the year butternut squash is a favorite ingredient in Italy. Zucca, the general term for squash in Italian, is common to find at farm markets in the Fall where home cooks and chefs seek it out to make seasonal dishes like cappellacci or totrtelli filled with a puree of butternut squash or pumpkin in a brown butter and sage sauce. One of the most heavenly pasta dishes in all of Italy.

This fall season we're using butternut squash to make a meaty Veal Bolognese. A ragu just slightly askew made with two ingredients that are not totally unfamiliar. The butternut squash with its sweet nuttiness and creamy texture adds an additional layer of flavor that goes well with the rich meaty flavor of veal. An authentic Bolognese is always served with tagliatelle but we’re thinking about using a new addition from our pasta pantry, Penne Ritorte. Ritorte means twisted in Italian giving this pasta its name and genuinely rustic taste. Made from durum heritage wheat and organically grown, Matt Monograno pasta is rich in vitamins and amino acids and easier to digest gluten with a protein content up to 40% higher than traditional wheat. There’s a clear reason why chef’s reach for Matt Mongrano pasta when they’re not making it fresh. Either paired with long or short pasta, this non-traditional Bolognese is our signature seasonal pasta dish for Fall.

Penne Ritorte Pasta with Veal Bolognese and Butternut Squash

2 T extra virgin olive oil

2 T unsalted butter

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

1 large celery rib, finely chopped

1 large carrot, finely chopped

1/2 medium butternut squash; peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 3 cups)

1 lb ground veal

1 cup whole milk

1 cup dry white wine

32-oz can whole Italian plum tomatoes coarsely pureed with juice

1/8 t freshly-ground nutmeg

coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

1 lb of Matt Monograno tagliatelle or penne ritorte cooked according to package instructions

grated parmigiano reggiano cheese


In a large heavy bottomed pot, brown in olive oil and butter chopped carrot, celery and onion over medium heat until they slowly develop a golden color, adding a pinch of salt during the cooking process. Then turn up the heat to medium high and add the ground veal with a few grindings of black pepper and mix with a wooden spoon, breaking up any large chunks but not too fine.

Brown meat mixture occasionally stirring, about 5 minutes. Once browned add the milk, stirring until the milk has completely evaporated. Add a tiny grating, about 1/8 teaspoon, fresh nutmeg and stir. Raise the heat a little and add the wine and let simmer until it has evaporated. Add tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients well. When tomatoes begin to bubble, turn heat down.

Slowly simmer uncovered, for 2 and 1/2 hours, occasionally stirring. During that time you can add a small amount of water (1/2 c) as needed to keep the sauce from drying out and sticking to the pan. During the last 45 minutes of cooking, stir in the squash and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender and the flavors have melded together with the other ingredients. Taste and correct salt and pepper if needed. Our Nonna said that the sauce is done when a dark layer forms on the surface as the fat separates out for a thick, meaty, luscious sauce. Serve with grated parmigiano reggiano cheese.

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