The whole point of this week’s recipe was to show you how to get more out of your squash. The plan: Make a quick and uncommon pasta sauce laced with roasted vegetables to toss with whole wheat pasta and sprinkle with crunchy, salty squash seeds—all in 25 minutes. And I totally succeeded. Well, almost.
You could make this hearty number with just about any winter squash. Pumpkin works, as does acorn, but butternut is probably the most common and popular, at least in my house, where I grow my own. Now, chances are you buy your squash at a place where they offer to peel and cut it for you. At my local grocery store you can get butternut 3 different ways: Whole for $1.69 a pound; halved, peeled and seeded for $3.99 a pound; Peeled and cubed for $4.99 a pound.
Do you know how easy it is to peel a butternut squash? It’s easy! Pro tip: use what we call a Y-peeler—a vegetable peeler shaped like a Y. All the chefs love ‘em. Further more, buying a butternut without the seeds is like buying a chicken without the giblets. Would you buy a car without a stereo or a handbrake? Of course not.
The seeds that are nested inside the bulbous portion of the squash are easily turned into the crunchiest little garnish that can be sprinkled on top of this recipe where seared chunks of butternut are roasted until tender and then mashed with a fork to make a creamy, all-veg sauce that clings to the pasta. My advice to you is to hide those roasted seeds from yourself until it’s dinnertime. There are none in the picture here because I ate them all—they’re that good.
Creamy Roasted Butternut Pasta with Fresh Chile and Crunchy Squash Seeds
1 small (about 2 lbs) butternut squash
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 garlic clove, smashed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt and freshly ground fresh pepper
1 cup water
12 oz whole wheat pasta
1 fresh red chile, thinly sliced
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Peel and seed the squash. Discard the peel and rinse the seeds reserving any meaty bits of squash that got scooped out with the seeds. Toss the seeds with the soy sauce and spread them in 1 layer on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Roast the seeds in the oven, checking on stirring them every 5 minutes, until they are crisp and dry, 20 to 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut the squash into 1-inch cubes. Heat the oil in a large oven-proof skillet over medium high heat, then stir in the squash (along with any of the meaty bits from the seeds), garlic clove, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Brown the squash, stirring occasionally, until golden, then add the water and transfer the skillet to the oven. Roast until the squash is very tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta. Add 1/2 cup reserved pasta water to the squash in the skillet and mash the garlic clove and 1/2 the squash with a fork to make a loose puree. Toss the pasta with the squash in the skillet then top with the chile, cheese, and reserved squash seeds (if you didn’t eat them already). Thin with more pasta water if desired and serve.
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