When the weather is warm and nice – as still it is in London – there are few things I love as much as a big pasta salad chilling in my fridge. This particular combination is one of my favourites. Maybe because it has something which suggest you that the autumn is coming – the butternut squash – but is not totally here yet.
350 g of butternut squash, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
3 ½ tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
140 g of whole wheat pasta
1 fresh mozzarella (125 g), diced
150 g of cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons of fleshy, oil-cured black olives, stone in
4-5 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
Zest of ½ unwaxed lemon
Black pepper, freshly ground
Heat the oven to 180° C. In a bowl toss the butternut squash with 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil, add the minced garlic and season with some salt.
Arrange in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking tray. Roast for 35- 40 minutes, until tender, shaking the tray a couple of times while roasting.
While the squash is in the oven, cook the pasta. Bring a large pan of slightly salted water to a boil, add the penne and cook according to the package instructions.
When the pasta is ready, drain it, place it in a large bowl and toss in with 2 ½ tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil. Let it cool for about 20 minutes.
Add the roasted butternut squash, the cherry tomatoes, the mozzarella, the olives, the basil and the lemon zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper and gently mix.
This pasta salad can be made several hours ahead. Cover with some cling film and chill bringing it to room temperature before serving. The flavour of the butternut squash and the citrusy notes of the lemon zest match really well with a glass of aromatic, delicate Viogner.