Pumpkin is our ingredient of the season. Today I went crazy and threw out the pumpkin for a butternut squash. Hope you don’t mind!
Today’s recipe for butternut squash pasta is absurdly easy, and it’s something that I find myself making every fall to usher in the season of squash. Come fall, I always have at least one butternut squash on the counter, so that’s what I used today, but this dish would be just as delicious if made with a sugar pumpkin. If you currently have a few squash on the counter, roast two squash today, eat one with your pasta, and use the other for our roasted root and squash soup.
It’s been years since I’ve lived with roommates, and while sharing space has plenty of downsides, one thing I always loved was sharing the kitchen during meal times. I didn’t live in many situations where we actually shared meals (we were all on different schedules and often had different diets), but being in the kitchen while roommates were cooking often exposed me to new ideas, flavors, dishes, and stories. We all know it, time spent in the kitchen together is special, and it’s no surprise that guests/roommates/family will often congregate in the kitchen. This dish came from one of those random roommate moments in the kitchen.
It was my first year living in Boston, there was a fall chill in the air, and my roommate had just roasted a squash. He didn’t have a particular dish in mind, but while the squash was roasting, he was also boiling pasta. The squash came out of the oven, a lightbulb went off in his head, and he combined the two. I don’t remember what else was in his dish, but I remember taking a bite and loving the combination of perfectly cooked pasta caked in the sweet squash with a dash of salt.
Over the years, I’ve made some version of this dish every fall, and I’ve started to fall into a routine. I always slowly sauté the onions in some butter and olive oil until they are translucent, super soft, and amazingly sweet. After the roasted squash is added to the onions, I season it with a bit of dried thyme and garlic powder, and I use water from the cooking pasta to get a sauce consistency that is thin enough to easily mix with the pasta, but thick enough to stick in every nook and cranny.
Once the sauce is ready, I stir in the cooked pasta and season it with salt. Before serving, there’s one more, absolutely crucial step : add a bit of freshly grated parmesan. The nutty and salty flavor of the parmesan does something amazing to the squash and pasta combination. It adds a deeper flavor (maybe it’s a touch of umami?) that rounds out each bite, and will have everyone at the table finishing their plate.
And speaking of finishing plates, now that one of my roommates is a toddler and the other just got his first teeth, I love making healthy food that they devour. As all moms know, you can’t go wrong with pasta, but you don’t necessarily love giving them plain noodles. This, my fellow moms, is a winning vegetable main course with my boys (granted, baby Luc can only eat the squash).
We don’t have a formal recipe today, that would just ruin the experience of the casual weeknight meal shared by roommates hanging out in the kitchen after too many hours in the library.