2 oz paccheri, rigatoni or other large, tubular dried pasta
1 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
small onion or large shallot lobe, chopped
1 teaspoon red miso
1 tablespoon roasted unsalted pumpkin seeds for garnish
freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese for garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking dish with aluminum foil. Use a knife to poke several holes on all sides of the squash. Put the squash on a microwave-safe plate and microwave on HIGH for 3 minutes.
Transfer the squash to the lined baking dish; roast until a knife inserted into the flesh encounters no resistance, 25 to 35 minutes. Let cool.
When the squash is cool enough to handle, cut it in half lengthwise and scoop out and discard the seeds and stringy matter. Use a spoon to remove the flesh from the skin; discard the skin. Reserve 1/2 cup of the flesh for this dish and refrigerate the remainder in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 6 months.
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions, then use a strainer (such as a Chinese skimmer) to drain and transfer it to a serving bowl. Reserve the pasta cooking water.
Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat until the oil shimmers. Add the onion or shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the miso, the 1/2 cup of squash flesh and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water, stirring to combine. Cook for a minute or two to let the flavors meld. Season with salt to taste; add more of the reserved cooking water to achieve a thinner consistency.
Spoon the sauce over the pasta, tossing gently to work some of the sauce inside the pasta. Garnish with the pumpkin seeds and the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, if using, and eat.
NOTE: To roast pumpkin seeds, spread them on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant, shaking them once to promote even browning.
From Food editor Joe Yonan, author of "Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One" (Ten Speed Press, 2011).