December 1, 2012 by Lauren
I start from other people’s recipes a lot. Kind of like when you’re picking out clothes, though, I start to think ‘well, wouldn’t it be nice if it had a bit more richness?’ This dish happened after I’d forgotten how to make the original dish and figured I could wing it. Man was I right. I discovered that a blended squash sauce could be mixed with just about anything and then thinned out (or left thick) to fit your tastes. I lovingly call this “fake mac and cheese.” It looks orange and gooey, but is much healthier than a whole bowl of melted cheese. After the recipe I’ll write about other ways that I’ve used the squash base, but at the end of the day — this one’s probably my favorite to come back to.
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Butternut Squash RigatoniActive Cook Time: 35 minutes
- 1 butternut squash, large
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1/3 cup parmesan, grated
- 1/4 cup basil, chopped (optional)
- 1 lb rigatoni pasta
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Cut butternut squash into 1″ thick discs. Take each disc and remove the rind using your knife. Scoop out and discard any seeds and generally cut into 1″x1″ cubes.
- In a saute pan, add olive oil and brown onions, about 3 minutes. During last 30 seconds, add garlic to the center of the pan and let cook slightly.
- Add butternut squash chunks and saute until you’ve browned them a bit. They’re hard to brown, so make sure not to move them around in the pan much. I typically do this for about 6 minutes.
- Add chicken stock to the pan and cover. Cook this mixture over medium anywhere from 10-15 minutes. You want your squash to be cooked, but not complete mush. If a knife easily slides in and out of a big piece, you’re good.
- Carefully ladle the squash pieces into a blender (if you have an immersion blender you can simply use that). Add some of the chicken stock and puree. In order to get the stock to blend I find I sometimes have to add more of the stock.
- Once blended, pour the squash puree back into the pan and add cream. Stir until incorporated. At this point add more stock if needed to loosen up the sauce.
- Add your parmesan and stir. Taste and salt and pepper as needed. Parmesan is salty, so make sure to put that in first.
- Turn off the heat and toss the basil in, stirring around lightly. Pour sauce over pasta and serve.
Butternut squash goes on sale for $.99/lb pretty regularly and cheaper than that sometimes too. It has a taste that screams fall and is plain enough to go well with lots of fun additions. I have added in curry powder and cayenne to the thick puree and it works as a wonderful side. Simply adding more stock to that curried mixture made the heartiest soup which I topped with homemade croutons (just toss bread in olive oil, salt, pepper and roast for a bit) and a tiny beet salad. I amped up the garlic (roasted some and blended it in) for a spread on toasted baguette slices. Best part is, as long as you don’t add the cream, you can freeze the puree part very nicely and use it whenever you’d like.