When it comes to food, there is nothing I love more in this world than a giant bowl of pasta, and lately, it seems to be the only thing on my mind. Typically, any kind of pasta will do, but these days, my stomach is gravitating towards two options – stuffed or drowned in any sort of cream sauce. I don’t know if it’s the pregnancy thing, the commencement of fall or a combination of the two that has me longing for these indulgent pastas over anything else, like say the fruits and veggies I should be pumping into my body, but I’m listening to my stomach’s orders until the scale or my doctor tell me otherwise.
The combination of butternut squash, brown butter and sage is a flavor profile I fell in love with years ago after first tasting butternut squash ravioli at Lidia’s here in Kansas City. I instantly became obsessed with the sweetness of the squash, the nutty flavors of the brown butter and the fall essence that sage brings to the table. So much so, that I’m guessing the trio has landed itself in a dozen or so recipes here on Cooking for Keeps. To this day, I go back to Lidia’s for the same ravioli and throw a toddler-esque tantrum if it’s not something they’re serving that day – I’ve since learned to call ahead to avoid a rather awkward encounter with the person on the receiving end of my potential hostility.
Because I’ve been craving both creamy pastas and my favorite fall trio as of late, it only makes sense to pair the two together in the fall pasta of my dreams…
Creamy Butternut Squash Rigatoni with Pancetta and Brown Butter Fried Sage.
The name alone sort sends my stomach into a tizzy, especially because it’s currently on the stove just waiting to be devoured (I’ve taste tested already, don’t worry), as I wait for Kevin to get home. Good things comes to those who wait. Good things comes to those who wait.
In light of full disclosure, I’ll say this, this isn’t a recipe for you if you’re looking for something light and healthful, this also isn’t for you, if you’re expecting dinner to get from the stove to the table in 30 minutes or less. There are few steps to achieve fall pasta perfection, but each one is worth it in the end.
First, the squash needs to be roasted, I prefer this method over anything else, simply because roasting lends infinitely more flavor than any other cooking process, plus it’s something that can be done ahead of time, even the day before if you’re trying to crank this out on a weekday.
While the squash roasts, I crisp up a good amount of cubed pancetta in a dry skillet, although thick-cut American bacon is a sufficient substitute if you have trouble tracking down pancetta, but these days, it doesn’t seem to be too elusive of an ingredient.
Once the squash is roasted, it’s thrown into a blender with a pint of heavy cream (no substitutes please!), a little bit of salt and pureed until smooth.
Annnddd then….the brown butter and sage. You know the drill, throw the butter in a hot pan, swirl when it starts to brown and then right when it smells super nutty and is a dark, golden brown throw in the sage. From there, the pasta gets tossed in along with the butternut cream, a copious amount of parmesan cheese, the pancetta and an extra bit of salt for good measure.
So rich, so indulgent, so worth it.
- ¼ pound pancetta cut into a small dice
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 small butternut squash
- 1 pint heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup fresh sage
- 1½ cups grated parmesan cheese
- 1 pound rigatoni
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Split butternut squash down the middle. Remove seeds. Rub olive oil over cut part of squash. Season with salt and pepper. Place flesh-side down on a baking sheet. Bake for 35 minutes or until fork tender. Cool.
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Season with salt. Cook pasta until just under aldente.
- In a large skillet, cook pancetta until crisp. Drain on paper towels and remove grease from pan.
- Remove flesh from squash. You should get about 1½ cups of squash. Add to a blender along with cream and salt. Pulse until squash has combined with cream. Do not blend too long, otherwise the cream will start to whip. Set aside.
- In the pan you used to cook the pancetta, add butter. Turn the heat on medium-high. let the butter melt and when it begins to brown, start to swirl the pan until the butter becomes a deep brown and smells nutty. Turn the heat down to a medium-low and add sage leaves. Cook until fragrant and starting to crisp up, about 30 seconds.
- Add pasta, cream, cheese and drained pancetta. Toss until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Garnish with more parmesan cheese.