In spite of all my badmouthing of Giada de Laurentiis a few months ago, I have to admit I like her recipes. On Sunday I decided to make her rigatoni with butternut squash and prawns. Other than prepping the squash and deveining the shrimp, the recipe was a cinch. What I found interesting is that you puree the squash so it becomes a silky, creamy sauce. The recipe does call for milk at the end to ensure that it's got the right texture, but truthfully, it tastes and feels much more luxurious than you'd think a sauce could that does not contain cream. Plus, it turns out a beautiful shade of marigold.
I timed my cooking a little crazily, sandwiched between two things. The first is a radio program on KALW that I like to listen to on Sunday nights called "Minds Over Matter." It's a call-in trivia show for the ultra-nerdy, like me. Sometimes the husband will come in and listen to the show with me, sort of laughing at me for liking it, but also sort of liking it. "I'm not the one who called in with an answer once," I frequently remind him.
Anyway, I like to listen to the show while I cook. Because it's public radio, the hosts speak in soothing, dulcet tones I find relaxing; plus, I always learn a thing or two. "Minds Over Matter" starts at 7 and goes until 8, but "Entourage" starts at 7:30, so since that's been airing, I've only been hearing half my nerd show. Those of you who are not slaves to TV, my hat is off to you, but please excuse me while I enjoy my HBO.
The recipe was fabulous. You might think the butternut squash would make the sauce too sweet but it was surprisingly well balanced. I tried to think of something I could substitute for the prawns, as I'm under the impression that eating shrimp is very bad for the planet, but I couldn't think of a good substitution. So for the time being, shrimp it is (or "srimp," as we call it in our house, due to my mother-in-law's endearing pronunciation.)
Rushing, I managed to get the pasta done in the nick of time. I'll have to catch the rest of "Minds Over Matter" on a podcast; geek radio can't really compete with Vince and the Boys. Over sunshine-colored rigatoni and a brawny zinfandel, for half an hour we escaped the drizzling rain of San Francisco for the blue skies and deep tans of Los Angeles. Everyone can use a little escapism now and then, and if it's enhanced by a sweet, creamy pasta that tastes faintly of the ocean, so much the better.