Butternut squash may not be the first ingredient that comes to mind when you think of pasta, but it works really well in this vegetarian pasta recipe. Especially when it’s roasted first and all you have to do is toss it with the pasta.
If you haven’t seen or worked with a butternut squash before, they are shaped like a bell, a light tannish orange color and have a pretty thick skin. I use a vegetable peeler to remove the peel. There are seeds in the center of the bulbous part and they will need to be scraped out. For this recipe you’ll chop them into a half to three quarter inch dice, but once the squash is peeled you can cut it into any size for roasting, just knowing that larger pieces take longer to roast.
Lightly browning the butter by letting it cook over medium heat in a saute pan gives the sauce a nutty flavor. And the garlic just needs a minute to release flavor and you don’t want it to burn so watch closely. Using a little of the hot pasta cooking water extends the flavor of the sauce.
Very thinly sliced Tuscan kale leaves and crumbled feta or goat cheese can be substituted for the spinach and Parmesan cheese.
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts
- 1 small butternut squash (you'll want 3 cups peeled and chopped)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 cube) butter
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried
- 1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary or ½ teaspoon dried
- 8 ounces fettucine noodles
- ¼ cup reserved pasta cooking liquid
- 2 cups very thinly sliced fresh spinach leaves
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese or feta cheese can be substituted))
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Roast pine nuts on a basking sheet just until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
- Trim ends from the squash. Peel then slice in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds; chop into ½ to ¾ inch cubes.
- Toss squash with olive oil and put on a baking sheet; season with salt and pepper and roast until lightly browned and softened, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter until lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately add the garlic, stir and remove from heat (do not allow garlic to burn). Stir in the olive oil, thyme and rosemary; set aside.
- Cook pasta according to package directions; remove ¼ cup of the hot pasta water and set aside. Drain pasta. Add drained pasta to the butter mixture in the skillet; toss to evenly coat. Add reserved hot cooking liquid and spinach and toss until the spinach is wilted, about 2-3 minutes. Add roasted squash, lemon zest, parmesan cheese and pine nuts and toss to coat evenly. Season with salt and pepper.
- Top with additional pine nuts and parmesan cheese, if desired.