Pasta with Butternut Squash, Sage, and Brown Butter

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We moved to Tucson, Arizona from Montana almost a year ago and I’m convinced that I will never see snow again.  Right now it seems like every other state in the universe is getting foot upon foot of snow, and I have to admit that I’m a little bit jealous.  My craving for snow and winter temperatures is only spurred on by the fact that in Tucson, this weekend, we might hit 90 degrees, eek, so while the rest of the world is building snowmen and shoveling their sidewalks I will be slathering on the sunblock and blasting the air conditioner.   In my fit of jealousy I decided to make a dish that makes me think of winter and gives me the cozy feeling of being inside a warm house while the snow is falling outside.

For some reason It annoys me a little when people describe food as being “earthy”, but when I think of sage, earthy seems like the perfect word to describe it.  There is something about sage that makes me think about winter and coziness.  The smell of it is so comforting and it pairs perfectly with butternut squash, which is another flavor that reminds me of winter.

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And what goes better with butternut squash and sage than brown butter?  Come to think of it, I think all foods would taste a little bit better with some nutty brown butter added to them.  Browning butter isn’t quite as easy as melting butter, but it isn’t too difficult either.  It takes some patience and a watchful eye, but is so worth it.  I found this website very helpful in the brown butter making process.I really love eating pasta because it is quick, easy, and goes well with so many different flavors.  When I started eating a more gluten free diet.  I went on a search for the best gluten free pasta I could find.  I started out with a pasta made from brown rice, that specifically said “Non-Mushy” on the front of the package.  Although I like my pasta non-mushy, I’m not so sure it is a good sign when they have to advertise it that way.  I finally discovered corn pasta and it definitely fills the large pasta shaped hole that was left in my heart.  I’m not sure if it is because I haven’t eaten regular pasta in so long, but corn pasta really looks and tastes like the real thing.  I’m not even sure if my husband would have noticed the difference if I hadn’t told him that it was gluten free.

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Make sure you have a sharp vegetable peeler when peeling the butternut squash.  That is my amazing little peeler, that also zests, that I bought from a little old lady at a garage sale.

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Scoop out the seeds and insides with a spoon.  Luckily my little squash didn’t have very many.

 

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About ten minutes before the butternut squash is finished roasting, throw in the red onions to all them to caramelize a little bit.  As soon as you pull the squash and onions out of the oven, add in the minced garlic and stir around, just to warm it a little bit.
Brown the butter:  I was a little nervous browning the butter because the butter browning how-to  that I read specifically said to use a light colored pan so that you could see the brown butter color appear, but I don’t own a light colored pan so I had to settle with dark.

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I started by cutting the butter into tablespoons, so it would be easier to melt.  One the butter was melted, I threw in the sage leaves, this allowed the sage leaves to crisp up and nicely flavored the butter.  Allow the butter to come up to a boil and watch it very closely.  Stir pretty constantly.  Brown bits will start to form on the bottom of the pan and a few minutes after that the butter should turn a nice brown color and will smell amazing!  Take butter off the heat and immediately pour into a heat safe container.

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Add all ingredients to the bowl and then add the brown butter a few tablespoons at a time.  I used about 3 tablespoons all together, but you can use as little or as much as you like.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

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The sage leaves will be crispy after booking with the butter so you can just crumble them up with a spoon or with your fingers and add them to the bowl.

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What You’ll Need:

  • 12 Ounces of dry pasta, gluten free or regular.  I used penne, but you could use whatever kind you like
  • 1 Small butternut squash, or about 4 cups when diced
  • 1 and 1/2 Cup broccoli florets, cut small
  • 1/2  Small red onion
  • 1 Clove garlic, minced
  • About 15 sage leaves
  • 1 Stick butter, or however much brown butter you would like to make, it will reduce a little bit when browning it
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Lemon wedges, if desired



What To Do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Peel the butternut squash with a sharp peeler.  Scoop out the seeds with a spoon and dice the squash into bite size pieces.  I got about 4 cups with my small squash, but you could use more or less depending on the size of yours.
  3. Place squash on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Place the sheet pan in the oven.  The butternut squash will bake for a total of about 30-35 minutes, or until fork tender.  Flip squash at about 15 minutes.
  4. When the squash is about 10 minutes from being cooked, julienne the 1/2 red onion and then those pieces cut in half.  Throw the red onion in with the butternut squash and toss around.  This is my easy way of caramelizing the onions without using a separate pan.
  5. When the squash is tender and the onions have browned, remove the sheet pan from the oven and throw on the minced garlic.  Stir garlic, squash, and onions together on the sheet pan so that the garlic warms slightly.  Set squash mixture aside.
  6. You can cook the pasta while the squash is baking: cook the pasta according to package directions.  Once the pasta is about 2 minutes from being perfectly cooked, throw in the broccoli florets and cook the remaining two minutes.  Drain pasta and broccoli and set aside.  You could steam the broccoli separately, but I was trying to save time and dishes.
  7. Brown the butter: Cut the butter into tablespoons and throw into a small saucepan.  Once the butter is melted, toss in the sage leaves, when the butter is finished browning the sage leaves will be nice and crispy, and it will also infuse the butter with a stronger sage flavor.
  8. Let the butter come to a small boil, stirring and keeping an eye on constantly.  The butter will boil for a few minutes and you will start to see brown bits forming on the bottom of the pan.  Let the butter boil, stirring constantly, for a few more minutes until the butter is brown in color and smells delicious, like toasted nuts.  I was expecting it to happen very quickly, but it took a while longer for it to brown than expected, so be patient. :)  Once the butter has browned pull it off of the stove and pour into a heat resistant container.  Scoop out the sage leaves and place them on a paper towel.
  9. Assemble the pasta:  In a large bowl add the pasta, broccoli, squash, onion, and garlic.  Crumble the sage leaves, (that have been cooking in the butter) over the pasta.  Add the brown butter a few tablespoons at at time, add however much or little you would like, I used about 3-4 tablespoons.  Mix all ingredients together and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Squeeze a lemon wedge over the pasta for a little acidity, if desired.
  11. Cozy up and enjoy!

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Cheeto prefers his kibble, silly cat.

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