24 October 2008

Off to India!

Today after work we're driving up to DC on the first leg of our trip to INDIA!! We'll be there for three weeks, mostly in Delhi but with a couple side trips. I'm really looking forward to spending time with our family and celebrating Diwali. We have 1 1/2 suitcases just filled with gifts for everyone. One of my favorite gifts for the kids is Pez dispensers...every kid needs a Pez dispenser at least once in his life!

My MIL got her visa interview appointment for a day while we're there, so if she is granted the visa she'll be coming back with us. That means that I've been cleaning our apartment like a madwoman so that if she does come back with us, our home will be presentable. Our cats, Mellors and Criseyde, are staying with a friend while we're gone, so we won't have to worry about them either.

We've also been using up all the perishable food in the house, and I've been making things that won't be as easily available in India, like pasta. I happen to have a slight pumpkin/squash obsession, so last night I made a butternut squash pasta recipe that was in the NY Times food blog, Bitten. It was seriously delicious and easy too. If I get hold of some pasta in Delhi, I might make this for my in-laws...as far as I can tell, it's Jain friendly (no onions).

Pasta with Butternut Squash

1 pound peeled and seeded butternut squash (start with a whole squash weighing about 1 1/2 pounds)
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound cut pasta, like ziti
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, or to taste
1 teaspoon sugar, optional
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1. Cut squash into chunks, and place in food processor. Pulse machine on and off until squash looks grated. (Alternatively, grate or chop the squash by hand.) Set a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta.

2. Place a large skillet over medium heat, and add the butter or oil. A minute later, add the squash, salt, pepper and about 1/2 cup of water. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add water, about 1/4 cup at a time, as the mixture dries out, being careful not to make it soupy. When the squash begins to disintegrate, after about 10 or 15 minutes, begin cooking the pasta. While it cooks, season the squash with the nutmeg, sugar if necessary, and additional salt and pepper if needed.

3. When the pasta is tender, scoop out about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, then drain. Toss it in the skillet with the squash, adding the reserved cooking water if the mixture seems dry. Taste, and adjust the salt, pepper or nutmeg as you like; then, toss with the cheese and serve.

Well, that's it for now...I'll try to post from India, or at least when we get back on November 18. Happy Diwali, everyone!