By Case D. Fischer
Looking around Fredericksburg, I can see Fall is arriving. We have actually had temperatures in the 70’s for the high and I am seeing pumpkins everywhere, especially next door at Das Peach Haus. Even though we don’t get an extreme temperature change or colored leaves until way later in the season, we do get small signs that summer is over and Winter is coming our way. For me, Fall is the season to start cooking and enjoying comfort foods, so I am inspired to share one of our recipes that features Butternut Squash – I’ll call it Fall Butternut Harvest Pasta. Now you know it involves pasta too – which makes it the ultimate comfort food, right? What can be more comforting than a pasta dish filled with cream, butter and the rich flavor of Butternut Squash? Butternut Squash is prominent in the fall, and it is known for its distinctive flavor and culinary versatility – you can use it in main dishes, side dishes, desserts and even drinks. But I believe one of its best uses is in pasta sauce.
Butternut Squash is packed with potassium, fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin A. If you are secretive enough to keep the kids out of the kitchen when preparing this, it’s also a great way to get them to eat their vegetables. It is generally prepared by blending it into a purée, roasting, sautéing, or toasting. The most common way to prepare it is roasting which is what today’s recipe calls for. Roasting Butternut Squash makes the flesh smooth – the right consistency for blending into a creamy sauce, or a creamy soup.
This recipe is completely customizable when it comes to additions to the sauce. Try adding bacon bits, shredded chicken or diced up sausage to it to add more protein. You can even add extra roasted diced butternut squash to the sauce which tastes great too. There are a lot of other ideas for this great vegetable, try a simple linguine tossed in a lemon butter sauce, add spinach, parmesan, and diced squash. Or blend it up with cream and herbs for a delightful hearty soup. See what I mean by culinary versatility? Not too heavy and not too light, this recipe is “Pasta Perfection” to celebrate Fall, all in one big bowl.
Butternut squash (weighing about 2-2 ½ lbs)
1 medium onion
1 ½ tbsp olive oil
8 oz tomato sauce or 8 oz Mom’s Special Marinara
¼ cup basil leaves
¼ cup shaved parmesan
⅓ cup + 2 tbsp heavy cream (sub cream cheese)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp paprika
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1. Preheat oven to 420 degrees F.
2. Bring 4-6 quarts of salted water to a boil. Add in pasta and cook pasta according to directions on box.
3. Cut the butternut squash in ½ and scoop out the guts and seeds. Dice a medium onion in half. Gently rub olive oil onto the squash & onion. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Roast squash first 20 minutes. Add the onion in and roast for 25 more minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before next step.
4. Gently scoop out squash flesh (using about ¾ of the entire squash) and place into blender. Add roasted onions, tomato sauce, basil leaves, and seasonings blend. Blend on high until smooth and creamy.
5. In a large pan over medium heat, add butter and gently stir until it is completely melted. Add in butternut sauce blend. Mix until the melted butter is fully incorporated into the sauce.
6. Add heavy cream and parmesan and mix until fully dissolved. Turn heat to low and stir sauce for 2-3 minutes.
7. Add sauce onto cooked pasta and coat pasta.
8. Top with roasted tomatoes, basil leaves, red pepper flakes, parmesan, black pepper, or bacon bits!