The butternut squash in our garden are going bonkers – good thing there are so many ways to enjoy them! One of my favorite pastas features butternut squash and can either be made vegetarian with garbanzo beans (chickpeas) or with browned, crumbled sausage.
We think we’re going to get about 20 butternuts in our garden this year. Next year I’ll try trellising them and spacing out the timing, so we won’t be inundated with them. That said, thankfully, stored in a cool dark place butternut squash can last for many months. When we were drowning in zucchini a month ago, I gave a lot away, sun dried some, and preserved others under oil. With the squash we won’t have this delicious problem.
Arliano Update (Aggiornamento Arliano):
It seems like I blinked, and the summer went by. Most of the garden has really started slowing down. The zucchinis stopped producing a few weeks ago, the beans gave their final bow last week, and the corn was this year’s biggest disappointment (more on that another time). The tomatoes are doing alright, but after the heatwave we had a couple of weeks ago, and now a few unusually cold nights – they are in a state of confusion. We grew a handful of great watermelons but with the wacky weather we’ve misjudged watering them and they are fizzling out now, too. Maybe we’ll get a couple more. Still in the field are the cabbage, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. Fingers crossed.
Inside of the house things are about the same. It’s a waiting game for the “Ecobonus” study to be completed and then work will begin. It’s anyone’s guess if that will be September or October. There are some supply and demand, plus price hike issues for building materials in Italy now due to all the people like us pursuing the energy efficiency building programs. For example, orders for windows and insulation are running about 3 months late. And somehow, they are “mysteriously” 30% more expensive than in year’s past due to the demand. Our contractors will likely start with inside renovations first, instead of the originally planned external ones. In the meantime, we’re still camping inside without much furniture. At least we eat well!
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Pasta with Butternut Squash Sauce
- 500 grams short, dried pasta (e.g., penne, fusilli, rigatoni, etc.)
- 2 pounds (32 ounces) butternut squash (weight after skin and seeds have been removed)
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled and cut in half
- EITHER: 1, 15 ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas) rinsed and drained, OR 1 pound (16 ounces) sweet or spicy Italian sausage, casings removed and browned
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, divided
- 1 – 2 garlic cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground red chili pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, more for drizzling final dish, if desired
- Gratings of parmesan, grana padana or pecorino cheese for serving, if desired
- Pre-heat the oven to 400F (200C)
- Cut in half lengthwise and de-seed the butternut squash and place the halves on a baking sheet, face down. Place each onion half on the baking sheet. Brush each half of the squash and onion halves with about a tablespoon of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. (Do the same to purchased, pre-cubed, skinless squash if you are using that instead of a whole butternut squash). Roast for 35 – 45 minutes, or until the squash is fork tender. Remove from oven and let it cool just enough to scoop out the flesh with a spoon
- When the squash and onions have 10 minutes left roasting, bring 4 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon of kosher or sea salt to a rapid boil. Once boiling, add the pasta. Under cook the pasta by 1-2 minutes. Usually, the pasta package will tell you how long to boil it – just subtract 2 minutes from the boiling time. It should be extra al dente. SAVE the pasta water
- If you are making the sausage version, at the same time you are boiling the pasta, remove the casings from the sausages and crumble them into a large sauté pan. Brown the sausage and drain and discard the fat once it is done cooking
- If you are making the vegetarian garbanzo bean (chickpea) version, rinse and drain the beans and then place them in a large sauté pan with two tablespoons of olive oil
- Whether you are making the garbanzo bean (chickpea) or sausage version, bring the sauté pan to medium heat along with the minced garlic and ground red pepper flakes about two minutes before the pasta is done
- Transfer the al dente pasta to the sauté pan with either the cooked ground sausage or the garbanzo beans (chickpeas) using a spider or slotted spoon
- In a blender or food processor, add the roasted butternut squash and onion and blend or process until smooth. Alternatively, you can mince the hell out of it with a knife. Add about a cup of the reserved pasta water a little at a time to the blender or food processor until it becomes more like a sauce than a paste. Transfer the squash sauce to the sauté pan with the pasta and sausage or garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
- Bring the pasta and squash sauce to a hard simmer. Add more pasta water as needed. Simmer for about 2 minutes. Salt to taste, likely 1/2-to-1 teaspoon. Taste a piece of the pasta to check for doneness. It should still be al dente, but not too chewy
- Divide the pasta into bowls and add a fresh drizzle of olive oil and some grated parmesan, grana padana or pecorino cheese, if you’d like