The Secret Ingredient

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Pasta with Roasted Butternut Squash

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Recently, my husband and I stopped into the bar at Fairfield’s Quattro Pazzi for a quick bite to eat after seeing a movie. Since it was late, we decided to share a dish and chose one of the evening’s specials, penne pasta in a sage cream sauce, with butternut squash, peas, and a dollop of fresh ricotta. I’m quite certain it was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. Of course I had to try to recreate it at home.

To simplify my prep, I used pre-cubed butternut squash and roasted it in the oven with a touch of olive oil, salt, and some chopped sage.  On the stove top I boiled water for my pasta while preparing a sage cream sauce.  While my version wasn’t quite as creamy as the restaurant version (the store was out of heavy cream so I substituted light cream and that was the difference), it turned out really delicious.  Even my kids loved it.  The only downside to this dish, and any pasta dish with cream sauce, is that it really doesn’t reheat well.  The butter and cream tend to separate leaving you with a greasy mess.  So make just what you need so there won’t be leftovers.

Penne with Roasted Butternut Squash and Sage Cream Sauce

Serves 4

1 lb cubed butternut squash (I buy it pre-cut to save on time)

1 lb penne pasta, cooked according to package directions

1 small container heavy cream (pint)

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

fresh sage

1 cup frozen peas

1 egg yolk

1/2 cup (or more) whole milk ricotta cheese

olive oil/salt

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the cubed butternut squash with a little oil, salt, and about 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh sage.  Roast for approximately 25-30 minutes or until squash is softened and lightly browned.  Set aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions, and in the last 2 minutes of cooking time, add peas.  Drain (do NOT rinse).

Meanwhile, combine cream, butter, and about 4 whole sage leaves  in a medium saucepan.  Allow to cook (stirring frequently) for about 5-7 minutes until it begins to thicken slightly.  Add Parmesan cheese and continue to stir.   When pasta/peas are ready, combine with cream sauce and add egg yolk.  Stir until completely combined (you can leave this step out, but the yolk really adds great creaminess and color to your dish).  Add butternut squash, stir, and top with a big dollop of ricotta cheese and a few chopped sage leaves.

Serve with additional Parmesan if desired.

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