The sweetness of butternut squash makes the leap to savory when paired with fresh-pressed olive oil, sage, and kale. Of course, butternut squash can be notoriously difficult to peel and cube. We’ve found it’s easier if you slice the top and bottom off with a sharp knife, then microwave the squash for 3 to 4 minutes. Let cool before peeling and dicing. Save this recipe for a day when you have plenty of time and are looking forward to spending it the kitchen. Though we tried to simplify it, the dish dirties a fair number of pots and pans.
- 1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut into small cubes
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided use
- Coarse salt (kosher or sea)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper, or more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1/2 pound orecchiette
- 1 or 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup rich chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 bunch kale, preferably lacinato, stemmed
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 ounce goat cheese, crumbled (optional)
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
- Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Toss all but one cup of the butternut squash with 2 tablespoons of olive oil as well as salt, pepper, the cayenne pepper, and the nutmeg on a rimmed sheet pan. Roast, turning once or twice, until the butternut squash cubes are tender and caramelized, 20 to 30 minutes. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the remaining olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Sauté the onions until softened, about 15 minutes. Set aside. Do not wash the pan, as you’ll need it again. 1 tablespoon at a time, and knead gently until the mixture is firm enough to roll.
Heat another tablespoon of olive oil in the saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook the remaining cup of butternut squash for approximately 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add 1/2 cup of the chicken broth and cook until broth is almost completely absorbed.
Roughly chop the kale leaves. Add the kale to the butternut squash in the saucepan and stir until the kale has softened. Add the onions and white wine and cook for 5 minutes.
In the meantime, bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the orecchiette according to the package directions until just al dente. Drain, reserving some of the pasta water.
Add the remaining chicken broth to the saucepan with the butternut squash and kale and reduce it by one-third (about 10 minutes). Turn the heat to low and add the heavy cream. Stir in the oven-roasted squash. If the sauce seems thick, loosen it with the reserved pasta cooking water (a tablespoon at a time).
Transfer to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with goat cheese, if using, the sage, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Serve immediately.
Serves 4 — Recipe adapted from food52.com