Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce
Have you seen butternut squash at your local farmers market or grocery store but haven’t been sure what to do with it? Don’t shy away from this delicious gourd! It is a really tasty and versatile vegetable. It’s also super healthy, too. The gorgeous peach color of butternut squash means that it has tons of carotenoids, which are nutrients that contain antioxidants and help to fight heart disease and some forms of cancer. This tasty squash also helps strengthen your immune system, helps fight inflammation and is also packed with folate, a B-vitamin that is especially great for pregnant or nursing mamas. Butternut squash is also low in fat and high in fiber—and who doesn’t love that, huh? So, if you’re new to enjoying this seasonal, nutritional superstar, here’s a recipe that highlights the flavor of this healthy squash while pairing it with something familiar: pasta.
Here are some tips before the recipe:
1. You will need to roast the squash, which can take around an hour. To save time, do that step first. While the squash roasts, you can work on the pasta and onions.
2. You will only need around half of a squash for this recipe, so see below the recipe for ideas of what to do with the rest of the roasted squash.
3. If you can’t find butternut squash, you can substitute it with an acorn squash or a sugar pumpkin.
4. You can have your little Sous Chef help you prepare this recipe by placing the ingredients into the food processor and then pushing the buttons. He or she can also mix the sauce over the pasta.
Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce
Ingredients & Method: (Serves 4-6)
For the pasta:
- 1 pound whole-wheat pasta
- Olive oil and salt for the cooking water
Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box and set it aside. Reserve a mugful of pasta cooking water to use for the sauce.
For the squash sauce:
- 1 small butternut squash, chopped into halves or quarters and seeded
- 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1½ cups organic arugula, washed and patted dry
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
- ¾ teaspoon rosemary, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus a couple pinches to sauté the onion and arugula
- ¼ teaspoon pepper, plus another pinch to sauté the arugula
- ½ cup reserved cooking liquid from the pasta
- Olive oil, shaved parmesan or romano cheese and red pepper flakes, to taste
Heat the oven to 400° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay the squash, skin side down, onto the baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle on a little salt and pepper. Roast for 40-50 minutes, until it is fork tender. Set the squash aside. Once it has cooled to the touch, slip off the skin and roughly chop ½ of the squash to use for the sauce.
Over medium heat, sauté the onions, garlic and red pepper flakes with a pinch of salt for 6 minutes or until the onions are golden. Stir occasionally.
Add the arugula, another pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper. Stir and cook for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
To a large food processor, add the ricotta, squash, onion-arugula mixture, salt and pepper. Process on high for 1 minute or until it is smooth. With the food processor running, add the reserved water from the cooked pasta, ¼ cup at a time, until your desired consistency is reached. Taste, and adjust seasonings.
Pour the sauce over the cooked pasta, mix and top with grated parmesan or romano cheese and enjoy.
What to do with the leftover squash? One thing you can do is to freeze it for later. You can also add it to smoothies or click here for some more recipe ideas.