It’s that time of year. The third week in June when the temperatures really start to soar. We’re talking about highs around 116°F. Quite hot! So, that means we don’t bake as much; instead, we tend to make more meals on top of the stove to prevent heating the kitchen. Such as this meal; everything is made right on the stove, and you can even make up the sauce hours in advance.
We chose this particular recipe from Bacon-ish, by Leinana Two Moons, simply because we picked up a tromboncino squash in our CSA share. It’s similar to a butternut squash, but with an elongated twisting neck. It was so large that we knew we’d end up with more cooked squash than we needed, but that could go in the freezer for another day. If you use a small butternut squash, you’ll have a perfect amount of sauce.
Of course, one could use store- bought pasta, but we’re going to encourage you to make up fresh pasta. Why? For one thing, you can make it with black pepper right in the dough, resulting in a nice peppery pasta. And another thing: everyone should try making pasta at least once. It’s not that hard, and we’ve even shown how you can make fettuccine entirely by hand. We also think that you could use another type of winter squash for the sauce, such as acorn, Hubbard, or perhaps even pumpkin.
Procedure in detail:
Break down squash. We’ll give a quick tutorial on how we break down butternut squash. First, use an ordinary vegetable peeler to peel the squash. We had to cut the neck into several pieces to make it easy to peel, but, with a regular butternut, you shouldn’t need to do that. Cut off the neck, cut it into disks, and cut each disk into cubes. Slice through the bulbous end, cutting it into 8 wedges. Slice off the seeds and pulp and discard. Cube the wedges. Done.
Cook onions. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring often, until they’re translucent and tender, about 3-5 minutes. If you wish, you can sprinkle in a bit of kosher salt and pepper at the beginning; it seems to help draw liquid out of the onions and makes them cook a bit faster.
Add garlic and season. Stir in the garlic, some salt and pepper, and the red pepper flake. Continue cooking, stirring often so the garlic doesn’t burn, until the garlic is fragrant, about a minutes.
Simmer squash. Stir in the squash, sage, and about 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer until the squash is tender, about 30 to 45 minutes. Check from time to time to make sure that the liquid doesn’t boil away, adding more as needed.
Blend smooth. Let the squash cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a blender and blend very smooth. Remember to vent the blender slightly when processing something hot. If you don’t, the heat will cause the air to expand, popping off the lid and spewing hot liquid around your kitchen. Not fun. While the sauce is blending, give the skillet a quick wash. You don’t want to have small chunks of food in your nice smooth sauce. While blending, stop and taste the sauce from time to time, adding salt, pepper, and sage as needed.
Warm sauce. Pour the sauce back into the now-clean skillet and place it over low heat to keep it warm while you cook the pasta.
Boil pasta. Bring a large kettle of salted water to a boil. Add fettuccine and boil until nearly done. It should be just slightly chewy, or al dente, which is just about 1 minute before it would be completely done. Scoop out about a cup of the pasta water before draining the fettuccine thoroughly.
Toss. Add the pasta to the sauce, tossing to coat. If needed, cook the sauce just a bit more to thicken it, or add pasta water to thin it.
Serve. Divide between two bowls, topping with a generous amount of grated Parmesan and freshly ground black pepper.
We really liked the pepperiness of this dish. Squash by itself is somewhat bland, and the pepper definitely helped that, keeping this dish nice and interesting. It was also surprising just how creamy the sauce turned out; the blended squash sauce had a nice mouthfeel, making it seem as if it had heavy cream as an ingredient. Four stars, without a doubt.