Are you a squashaphobe? Do you cringe at the sight of acorn squash dripping in brown sugar and butter? I’ve been squashaphobic ever since I can remember. My parents absolutely loved eating sickeningly sweet squash as soon as there was a chill in the air. Every time we ate it for dinner I would take my obligatory bite and twist my face in disgust. It doesn’t matter how old I am, I just can’t eat sweet and savory together. It wasn’t until last year that I developed my deep love for butternut squash. I was working for a catering company and the brilliant head chef turned relatively inexpensive butternut squash ravioli into an extra special pasta dish for a wedding. It was just ravioli, butter, and bacon but it was insanely delicious. All of the guests went crazy for it. I decided to take those flavors and amp them up with as much fall-goodness as possible. This pasta is basically a chilly autumn night curled up by the fireplace. The squash is roasted until it’s dark on all sides creating a caramelized nutty-goodness. Applewood-smoked bacon lends a much needed smoky-sweetness without being cloying and the brown butter sage sauce gives the dish the earthy punch that it needs. What could possibly be better than that?!
Butternut Squash Penne in a Brown Butter Sage Sauce
Yields 5 Servings
- 6 strips of applewood-smoked bacon, cooked until crispy
- 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 2 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon of olive oil, divided
- salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 1 pound of penne pasta
- 4 tablespoons of butter
- half of a white onion, minced
- 5 sage leaves, sliced into ribbons
- 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme
- 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts, toasted (optional)
- 1/2 cup of grated parmesan
1. Cook the bacon until crispy. I prefer baking my bacon. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Toss the cubed squash in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper, and garlic powder. You’ll want to season the squash generously. Roast for 30 minutes, flipping the squash once. It should be dark on at least one side and fork tender. Don’t be afraid of a little color. This is what creates flavor.
2. Cook the penne according the the package directions. While the penne is cooking, saute the onions in butter until translucent. Once the butter starts to brown, lower the heat and add the sage and thyme. Then toss the squash, walnuts, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and bacon in the sauce. Add about a half a cup of reserved pasta water and stir. Then toss the drained pasta in the sauce. Top with parmesan and serve immediately.