Every now and then, it is time to clear out the refrigerator. My family will confirm that I find it shameful to ever throw food away, so I occasionally end up with a dish that is out of the usual. This is one of those meals.
We had butternut squash waiting to be turned into a roasted vegetable side dish, but that never happened and the only other vegetable I had on hand was a few broccoli florets. I thought about it a few minutes and first thought I would make a butternut squash bisque, but the kids are never excited about soup so I pushed that thought aside. Then I thought okay, maybe use the technique for soup, but turn it into a sauce. After all, we love pasta and I am currently in an after-the-holidays-calorie-cutting-menu phase.
VOILA! A new sauce.
And here we go….. As always, if you make this recipe and see a correction or better technique, let me know!
1 box of dried penne or other pasta that holds sauce well (gluten free or regular)
5-6 cups of precut fresh butternut squash
1 medium cooking onion, diced
1 small head of broccoli, broken into florets
1 c. walnuts, or nut of choice (I do not suggest almonds unless slivered)
4c. chicken or vegetable stock (from the pantry or purchased)
2 c. grated parmesan (not sprinkle parm, actual, fresh parmesan)
½ c. grated fresh smoked mozzarella (or regular if you prefer)
3 Tbsp. roasted tomatoes in oil (homemade or purchased) (from the pantry)
1/4 c. packed arugula
Olive oil as needed
Pesto – for an under-garnish, about 3 Tbsp. per person (homemade or purchased) (from the pantry)
Salt & Pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 300°.
- Place walnuts on one side of a baking sheet and the broccoli, drizzled with oil, on the other and roast for 4 minutes, stir, and toast 3 more or until you smell the nut flavor. Remove from over, chop, and cover with just enough olive oil to coat. Set aside.
- Increase the heat to 350°.
- Heat a heavy bottom pot (I use a 5 qt. copper pot) to medium and add enough olive oil to cover. Cook the diced onion for 3 minutes, stirring to avoid browning.
- Add the cut squash and continue sautéing for about 5 minutes. This will start to cook and soften the squash, slightly caramelizing the sugars.
- Add the chicken stock, bring to boil, reduce to simmer until the squash is soft, but not falling apart, 6-8 minutes – but check. Do not overcook the squash.
- With an immersion blender, blend the squash, onion and stock into a sauce.
- Stir in 1 c. of parmesan and ½ c. grated smoked mozzerella.
- Add the uncooked pasta to the sauce and stir, making sure the sauce enters the rigatoni or that it coats all of your pasta.
- Pour the pasta and sauce into a deep baking dish and – this is important – put the dish on a baking sheet as it may bubble over.
- Loosely cover with foil and bake for about 10 minutes. Check the pasta for doneness (different pasta’s will cook more quickly than others.). If it needs more time, continue baking and check every 5 minutes or so.
- When the pasta is properly cooked, remove from oven and stir in the roasted broccoli and arugula. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan, spread the walnuts over the top, and dollop the roasted tomatoes in the middle.
- To serve, spread pesto on the bottom of the pasta plate, and serve the pasta on top of it.