Sunday, October 12, 2008

Creamy butternut pasta sauce

Squash has become almost an icon of American autumn. Yet, most of us are satisfied to arrange it artfully on the front steps and carve it into lanterns. I am definitely a fan of both of these uses, but I'm also a strong proponent of eating it.

Squash is full of the kinds of vitamins and minerals that most of us don't get enough of: vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E (antioxidants!); folic acid; and potassium. It's also quite filling and (in my opinion) incredibly yummy.

You do have to work a bit for that nutrition, though. But I promise, the creamy, garlicky pasta sauce I made with it today is totally worth the effort.

First you have to peel, chop, and de-seed the squash. This is the hardest part. Use a sharp knife and consider this an opportunity to get out your aggression for the day.

I like to separate the neck from the bulb -- this makes it easier to chop into segments.

Then it's time to roast it with garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. It's pretty easy from there -- just purée it in the blender with some half-and-half.

Squash on the front steps is beautiful. But you have to admit, so is this.

And this (the finished product). It'll go into the freezer for use on cheese or veggie ravioli, with a few walnuts sprinkled on top.

And when it's all over, it's time for a turkey provolone sandwich with cranberry mayo (compliments of Mr. Incredible).

Happy butternutting!

Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce

1 medium butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. dried rubbed sage
coarse salt and ground pepper
5 garlic cloves, peel on
1 cup half-and-half

Preheat oven to 375°. Trim, peel, and de-seed squash. (Halve crosswise to separate bulb from neck, then halve both pieces lengthwise.) Cut into 2-inch chunks; transfer to a baking sheet.

Toss with oil and sage and season generously with salt and pepper. Scatter garlic around squash. Roast until squash is tender, about 40 minutes, tossing once halfway through.

Remove and discard garlic skins. Transfer squash and garlic to blender; purée. With motor running, add half-and-half and process until smooth. Add some water, if necessary, to achieve desired consistency. Continue to process until smooth.

Season again with salt and pepper to taste and freeze for a quick and delicious topping for ravioli or just plain pasta. Serve with chopped walnuts or pecans on top.
[Note: my butternuts, grown with love in Dillsburg, Pa., amounted to about 8 pounds together, so I quadrupled the recipe above. This yielded a lot of sauce, but it also means I have plenty on hand for those weeknight dinners when I have no time to make anything else.]


Emma said...

Could you skip the peeling and chopping part by just cutting it in half and roasting it then scooping out the yummy part? I've never done much with squash other than roast it in the oven and serve it with butter and brown sugar. mmmmmm.

Dulcimer Hope Brubaker said...

I think you probably could, and it would probably taste pretty much the same. The only difference, I think, is that it wouldn't necessarily get that "roasted," slightly caramelized taste to it. But that's subtle anyway, so it wouldn't be a bad idea to try it! Let me know how it turns out if you do.

brannabee said...

i admire your dedication to the full appreciation of the common squash. and what's more - i sincerely adore the fact that you make and store so much. gotta learn to do that. :)

Dulcimer Hope Brubaker said...

Well, when it comes to making and storing, it's better to do it with a friend than by yourself! Maybe next year we could do some storing together. :)

Danielle a.k.a Yellie said...

I stumbled across your blog one day and am thoroughly mesmerized by how crafty and good in the kitchen you are. I've been inspired to try new things lately and your blog makes me even more excited to branch out and try something new. I can't wait to see what you come up with next!

brannabee said...

where do i sign up for next fall's make'n'store with dulcimore?