Chef Anthony Paone created this recipe our Fall/Winter 2010 issue story, “What Do You Do with a Black Futsu,” when he was at Sea Salt, a seafood-forward restaurant formerly on San Pablo in Berkeley. The butternut rugosa above, grown by plant geneticist and seed breeder Fred Hempel on his farm in Sunol, California, is like a rough-skinned version of the familiar butternut squash. This classic dish by Chef Anthony Paone uses a couscous-like pasta from Sardinia called fregola sarda. The fregola “pearls” are larger than couscous and have been toasted.
½ butternut rugosa (or butternut), peeled and cut into 1-inch squares
½ pound butter
½ pound fregola sarda
Zest and juice from 1 lime
4 salmon fillets (or another sustainable fish choice)
6 sage leaves, finely chopped
4 ounces hazelnuts, roughly chopped and toasted
Preheat oven to 350°. Clarify 4 tablespoons of butter and use it to coat the squash squares. Lay them on a baking sheet, salt lightly, and roast until soft and slightly browned (about 25 minutes).
Prepare fregola as you would pasta, by boiling in a large pot of water until al dente. Make brown butter vinaigrette by placing 8 tablespoons butter in a saucepan and cooking until lightly brown. Stir in lime zest and juice along with a pinch of salt. Set aside.
Melt some butter in a skillet and sear the fish. While that’s cooking, sauté the sage in 2 tablespoons butter until fragrant, then add fregola, hazelnuts (reserve some for garnish), squash, and a splash of the brown butter vinaigrette. Mound onto plates, top with fish and a sprinkle of chopped hazelnuts. Drizzle with more brown butter vinaigrette.