Put your butternut to work for you.
So, I had this butternut squash hanging around. He wouldn't leave, no matter how often I politely hinted that he should find suitable accommodation elsewhere. No free lunch here, not even for those hoping to be lunch. Instead he just sat there, on the counter, admonishing me for paying more attention to the spinach, the broccoli, even the kale. It's not easy being orange, he would sing off key, Kermit-like, and as a carrot-top myself, I had to agree.
Last year I had turned one of his long-lasting cousins into risotto, so I had to come up with something new. I wanted to use one of the boxes of pasta I've been hoarding for the coming disaster, and some sage from my hardy salvias (sage) outside. And while we were at it, some nuts—hazelnuts seemed like a nutritious choice, and in addition presented rhyming possibilities.
What I came up with was a sort of squash pasta pile-on, with a bread crumb-hazelnut topping instead of the usual suspect, parmesan (or asiago for upscale suspects). Pleased to at last have been considered worthy of dinner, the squash was suitably adorned with a sprig of sage.
Instructions on how to get rid of your butternut below.
(Yes, I've always been a bit anthropomorphic about food. I used to think peas cried if I didn't eat them.)
Pasta with Butternut Squash and Hazelnuts
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed into ¾-inch cubes
½ cup hazelnuts
1 tablespoon olive oil or non-hydrogenated margarine
1 red onion, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh sage, snipped
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon non-hydrogenated margarine
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon fresh sage leaves, snipped
½-lb. pasta (linguine, fettuccine, farfelle, etc.)
Spread butternut cubes in a baking sheet covered sprayed with cooking oil in 350F/180C oven for 20-25 minutes. (The length of time will depend on the size of the cubes.)
Roast the whole hazelnuts in the same oven for 5-7 minutes. Remove from oven and, if necessary, remove the brown husk. (Rub the cooled nuts between your palms until the husks fall off.) Loosely chop the hazelnuts and set aside half the amount; chop the remainder into a finer dice and set aside.
Meanwhile, sauté red onion in 1 tablespoon of the oil or margarine for 5 minutes until soft. Add sage and the coarsely chopped hazelnuts. Continue to sauté over low heat while you cook the pasta according to package directions.
When the squash is done, add to the skillet with the red onion mixture and add some of the pasta water, which by now should be starchy. Keep warm over very low heat.
In a separate skillet, melt margarine and add garlic, bread crumbs, remaining hazelnuts, and 1 teaspoon snipped sage leaves. Stir over medium heat until bread crumbs turn golden brown, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
To serve, mound pasta in a pasta serving platter, pile on the butternut squash mixture, and sprinkle the bread crumb mixture on top. Adorn with a sprig of sage, and serve with a crisp white wine.
Notes on ingredients: You can substitute pine nuts, but then you’ll have to change the name. If you use dried sage, use less—1 teaspoon instead of 1 tablespoon fresh.