When fall comes around, butternut squash is by far my favorite ingredient. Luckily here on the central coast, we’ve been lucky enough to have this winter squash last in our grocery stores throughout spring. With all of the central coast fog lately, I’ve been feeling sentimental towards fall recipes.
Through searching online for butternut squash recipes, “vegan butternut squash mac and cheese” caught my eye. I had a few problems with these recipes though. 1. I don’t believe in marketing a recipe as mac and cheese if there is no cheese in the recipe. 2. Many of the recipes I found had a great starting idea, but needed something else. Butternut squash pairs well with so many flavors, and I just so happened to pick up some hazelnuts from Whole Foods bulk section earlier that day. I figured that hazelnuts were the missing piece of the puzzle to send a butternut squash sauce from average to amazing.
The resulting recipe I came up with is rich, creamy, nutty and delicious. Browning the butter and roasting the butternut squash adds so much depth of flavor, and makes the longer than normal cooking time really worth it.
Butternut Squash Pasta with Browned Butter and Sage
- 1 small butternut squash about 1 ½ pounds
- 4 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup hazelnuts
- 1 onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ cup chicken stock
- 8 oz Chickpea pasta shells
Preheat oven to 425º F. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds and slimy flesh. Place each half on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes, until the squash is tender and browned on the top.
When the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh out of the skin and place in the bowl of a food processor or blender.
In a light colored skillet over medium heat, combine the butter and hazelnuts. Cook, swirling the pan often, until the butter becomes a rich brown color and the hazelnuts are golden brown. Add the browned butter and hazelnuts to the food processor with the squash.
Drizzle a bit of olive oil to the skillet, add the diced onions, and cook until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and nutmeg, season with salt and pepper, and cook for one minute more. Deglaze the pan with the chicken stock, stirring up all of the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Transfer mixture to the food processor.
Pulse all ingredients in the food processor until a smooth puree forms, adding more stock if necessary.
Cook and drain pasta according to package directions. Toss the pasta with sauce and garnish with fresh parmesan and sage.