A Hearty Vegetarian Food Blog

Brown Butter Butternut Squash Pasta with Sage, Rosemary, and Toscano

My ex-boyfriend gave me a large kitchen knife the night he broke up with me. 

That’s right, he literally handed me a weapon on one of the most unstable nights of my life. Let’s return to the scene:

After informing me that he wanted to break up, he presented me with a bag of stuff that I could only assume would be a random assortment of items I had left at his house. But no. As he explained to me, a cooking store was going out of business and he had bought me a few things. In the bag was a variety of new kitchen implements, including a few bowls, measuring spoons, and a very large, very sharp kitchen knife.

Clearly, he chose the perfect occasion to give them to me…. Fortunately for him, I am not an especially violent person.

 And I guess trust wasn’t among the ranking problems in our relationship.

Anyway it certainly wasn’t the worst consolation prize I’ve ever received. I really did need that knife because I’m notorious for sticking them in the dishwasher, leaving them wet so they rust, never sharpening them, and otherwise offending the gods of cutlery. My knives never stay in tip-top shape for very long.

That said, my chopping skills aren’t nearly as much of an embarrassment as my knife maintenance skills. I’m up to my eyes in butternut squash this time of year, so I’ve about got the butternut chopping method down. Scroll on down to the notes section of the recipe if you’re nonplussed by the sight of a full size butternut squash that not a single kind soul has volunteered to chop for you.

Now let’s talk about this pasta, shall we?

This dish has all the smooth butternut squash-iness of the ubiquitous butternut ravioli with none of the cutting and filling and folding business. Don’t get me wrong, hand-filled ravioli certainly have their place in my life, but that place is not weeknight dinner.

It’s complex yet delicate, the kind of pasta dish that tastes like it requires 20 ingredients, rather than just a couple of strategically chosen herbs and some brown butter (you’re welcome). The brown butter mixture and the light, cheesy sauce, prepared using a method similar to that of cacio e pepe, bring out the sweetness of the butternut squash in the most wonderful way.

Hope you enjoy this as much as I and my roommate, who eats the squash directly out of the pan before I can manage to add it to the pasta, do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Print Recipe
Brown Butter Butternut Squash Pasta with Herbs and Toscano Cheese
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
For the brown butter butternut squash:
For the pasta with toscano cheese sauce:
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
For the brown butter butternut squash:
For the pasta with toscano cheese sauce:
Instructions
For the squash:
  1. Brown the butter. In a 12 to 14-inch skillet, melt butter on medium-high heat. Once it begins to bubble, stir continuously until it becomes fragrant and dark caramel colored, approximately 2-4 minutes.
  2. Add sage and rosemary to brown butter and sizzle for 20 seconds or so; then add butternut squash, vanilla, and salt. The squash should fit comfortably in one layer in the pan. If it doesn't, transfer some of the squash and brown butter mixture to an additional pan.
  3. Saute butternut squash on medium-high heat for 15 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes or so, until most sides of the squash are caramelized to a deep golden brown. Once caramelized, remove from heat.
For the pasta with toscano:
  1. Salt the water and bring to a boil; then add pasta. Cook pasta until al dente (firm), and then drain, reserving the pasta water. (You can reserve the pasta water by putting a metal colander in a metal bowl, pouring the contents of the pasta pot into the colander, and then removing the colander filled with pasta so that you are left with a bowl of water.)
  2. Add 2 tbsp of butter to the empty pasta pot and melt butter. Once melted, add 1/4 cup pasta water and bring to a simmer.
  3. Add the pasta back to the pot, and toss with tongs. Gradually add the parmesan or toscano cheese and toss continuously for approximately 2 minutes, or until the cheese melts and the cheese and water thicken into a sauce. Remove from heat.
All together now!
  1. Add the butternut squash to the pasta and toss a few times to distribute.
  2. Serve with additional toscano cheese because you're worth it.
Recipe Notes

Cut butternut in half hamburger style (round cross section), and then cut off the top and bottom off with a large, sharp knife. Take 1/2 of the squash and, with one of the flat sides down on the cutting board, cut off the skin and pith with the knife (a lot easier in my experience than using a vegetable peeler.) Repeat for both halves. Finally, chop the two halves hot dog style and scoop out the seeds. Then slice into 1/2 inch pieces. WHEW.

...or you can buy the pre-cut variety. I won't judge.



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