Here’s a gem of a pasta recipe from the November 2006 Gourmet.
Featured in the “10-minute mains” page of the magazine, it lived up to its promise: the super easy butternut squash-sage sauce, comes together in as few as 10 minutes. And if you’re good at multi-tasking and set a pot of water onto simmer while your sauce cooks, your dinner can be done in just about 20 minutes flat, start to finish.
Made with only butter, sage, squash, onion and water, the sauce miraculously tastes almost cheesy or as if it were made with cream or stock or something to provide richness. While the butter provides some richness, it’s truly mostly vegetable, and the butternut squash makes it silky smooth.
This is an especially good one to make when the butternut squash and bundles of sage start arriving at the market or in the farmshare or CSA. It’s a perfect fall pasta dish, reminiscent of mac n’ cheese but lighter and tastier. Both the adults and children in my household gobble this one up.
Source: Gourmet 2006
This recipe appeared in the 10-minute main section of Gourmet and thus calls for processing the raw squash and onion in a food processor. If you are pressed for time and want to follow these instructions, do so here.
Otherwise, the method described below takes just a wee longer, and if you have an emersion blender, your clean-up will be super fast, too. To turn this into a soup, thin with a little chicken or vegetable stock, water, or coconut milk until it’s the consistency you like.
- 1 lb (about) peeled butternut squash pieces
- 1 small onion, diced
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage (or a small bunch, unchopped, see recipe for details)
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
- 2 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 cup) plus additional for serving
- 1 lb penne rigate or rotini or whatever pasta shape you like
- Heat butter in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then add sage and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. (Note: I just add my bundle of sage to the butter intact and remove it before puréeing the sauce.) Add cubed squash, diced onion, water, salt, and pepper and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until squash is very tender and water has reduced considerably, about 10 to 15 minutes depending on the size of the squash pieces.
- If you wish, stir in Parmigiano-Reggiano. (Note: I do not do this — the mixture tastes wonderful without any cheese, so I just serve the cheese on top of the pasta.) If you didn’t chop up the sage, extract what is left of the bundle you added to the pot — a few small leaves remaining is fine. If you have an emersion blender, purée mixture right in pot. If you don’t, transfer mixture to a food processor or blender and purée until smooth. Taste sauce. Add more salt if necessary. Add a grating of fresh nutmeg if you wish. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If it is too thin, simmer over low heat until it thickens.
- While squash mixture simmers, cook pasta in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water with a large pinch of kosher salt until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water, then drain pasta in a colander.
- Place pasta in a serving bowl. Toss with enough butternut-sage sauce to coat nicely. If necessary, add a little bit of the reserved cooking water to thin it out. Serve pasta with cheese. If you have extra sauce, store it in the fridge for a later date. The sauce thickens as it sits, so on subsequent uses, it will most likely be necessary to use the reserved cooking liquid to thin out.
- Category: Pasta
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American, Italian
Keywords: pasta, simple, butternut, squash, sage, parmesan