This year we continued to garden on the side of our house in our square foot garden. We tried some new veggies (for us), and one of them was butternut squash. It was so fun to see how large the squash were growing and then not so fun to see the squirrels taking bites in every squash we produced except one. That one squash was a beauty, and our prize for enduring the pesks. I feel as if it would have won a blue ribbon at the fair.
We pulled out a recipe from Cooks Illustrated that we made many times last year and decided to make it again this year with our prize squash.
PASTA WITH BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND SAGE
*Note do not use dried sage in this recipe
4 slices bacon, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
8 large fresh sage leaves, plus 1 tablespoon minced
2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (6 cups)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
6 scallions, sliced thin
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and Pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups chicken broth
1 pound penne pasta
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
4 teaspoons lemon juice
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1. Cook bacon in 12 inch skillet over medium heat until crisp, 5-7 minutes. Add whole sage leaves and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer into small bowl, reserving fat and bacon mixture separately.
2 Heat 2 tablespoons reserved fat (adding oil if necessary) in now -empty skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add squash and cook, without stirring, until beginning to caramelize, 4 -5 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until spotty brown, 3-4 minutes longer. Add butter and let melt, about 30 seconds. Add scallions, minced sage, sugar, 3/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and nutmeg and cook, stirring occasionally, until scallions are softened, about 3 minutes. Add broth, bring to simmer, and cook until squash is tender, 1 to 3 minutes.
3. Meanwhile , bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add penne and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, stirring often, until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, and drain penne and return it to pot.
4. Add squash mixture, Parmesan, lemon juice, and reserved bacon mixture to penne and toss to combine. Add reserved cooking water as needed to adjust consistency. Serve, passing almonds and extra Parmesan separately.