Exclusion from this year’s lists of trendiest vegetables doesn’t take anything away from butternut squash.
A food darling for several years, the squash’s appeal isn’t exactly news. It’s a good source of fiber, potassium and magnesium, as well as an excellent source of vitamins A and D. It’s a naturally sweet substitute it for any recipe calling for pumpkin.
With its balance of sugar and starch, it’s supremely satisfying on wintertime menus. This month and next, at least, it holds sway as a staple of dishes from restaurants and the home kitchen.
I fully expected to find locally grown squash, stored to extend their season, in my community-supported agriculture share, explained in a previous post. As with the majority of its crops, Rogue River’s Runnymede Farm did not disappoint.
Sizeable squash, like the cauliflower from my CSA box, often get halved for a recipe and then hang out in my fridge for a while. I like leaving the squash raw, so I have more preparation options beyond an initial method.
But roasting off some small squash for risotto recently left me with roasted cubes that suggested stirring into pasta carbonara. I’ve incorporated roasted winter squash into cheesy pastas for years —macaroni and cheese being an obvious favorite — so I was surprised that searching this blog’s nearly 800 posts didn’t yet turn up a recipe similar to the following, courtesy of Tribune News Service.
Pasta With Herbs and Butternut Squash
1 medium butternut squash, about 1 1/2 to 2 pounds
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste
8 ounces whole-grain medium shells or penne
1/2 onion, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 1/2 cups unsalted vegetable stock, divided
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons minced, fresh basil
2 tablespoons minced, fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray with cooking spray.
Using a large, heavy knife, cut off ends of the squash. Peel using a vegetable peeler. Cut squash in half, remove seeds and cut squash into 3/4-inch cubes. Place squash cubes in a zip-close bag. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Seal and toss to coat evenly. Spread in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Bake uncovered in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until tender and edges are lightly browned, stirring midway through cooking.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling water, according to package directions; drain.
Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes or until onion is just tender. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently for 30 seconds. Add 1 1/4 cups of the stock and the Italian seasoning. Heat until boiling. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
Stir together remaining 1/4 cup stock and the cornstarch. Stir cornstarch mixture into simmering stock. Cook, stirring continuously, until bubbly and thickened.
In a large serving bowl, stir together cooked squash, pasta and sauce. Sprinkle with the fresh, minced herbs and toss to combine.
Makes 4 servings.