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Farm Fresh: Butternut squash makes a resplendent pasta sauce

Thursday, October 21, 1999

Tested by Betsy Kline

Looking for a pasta dish that is as unusual as it is delicious? Sautéed Butternut Squash With Garlic and Sage makes a beautiful presentation, perfect for autumnal meals with its golden yellows and flecks of green.

And it's economical. Winter squash is very inexpensive. Combine that with pasta and a handful of fresh sage (do not substitute dried or rubbed sage) and you have elegance for pennies a plate.

1 small butternut squash (we used a 1 1/2- pound squash)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
4 medium cloves garlic, slivered
12 large fresh sage leaves, shredded, plus several whole leaves for garnish
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound pasta (penne or other tubular shape is perfect)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to taste

Bring 4 quarts water to a boil for cooking pasta.

Cut squash in half lengthwise and use spoon to scrape out and discard seeds and stringy fibers. (If you are using a larger squash, discard half or reserve for other use.) Use a vegetable peeler or small knife to remove skin. Cut peeled squash into 1/2-inch cubes (you need 3 cups). Steam the squash until tender, but not mushy, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Heat the oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet. Add the garlic and sauté over medium heat until golden brown, about 4 minutes. The garlic should be richly colored but not dark brown or burned. Use a slotted spoon to lift the garlic slivers from the oil. Discard the garlic.

Add the steamed squash, shredded sage leaves, salt and pepper to the pan. Toss to coat the squash with the oil and butter. Cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is heated through, about 3 minutes. (Cook it until it just starts to lose its shape, but short of mushy.) Add salt and pepper to taste.

While preparing the sauce, cook and drain the pasta, making sure some water still clings to the noodles. Toss the hot pasta with the squash sauce and the remaining tablespoon of butter. Mix well and transfer portions to warm pasta bowls. Garnish with sage leaves, if desired. Serve with grated Parmesan. Makes 4 servings.

"Pasta e Verdura" by Jack Bishop

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