Happy 2012! I got a little obsessed with squash last fall, as some of you may remember, and became especially addicted to this butternut squash pasta sauce I created. It’s a nice way to mix things up from the standard red sauce and a healthier, lower fat creamy option than an alfredo.
You’ll need some time to make the sauce since roasting the squash takes a little while but once made, you can easily refrigerate it for about a week or freeze it for later meals. I’ve been using it in two great recipes, one I’m sharing today and the second I’ll share next week!
The first dish I put together was this Butternut Squash Gnocchi, which sounds fancy but by making the sauce ahead of time and using store-bought gnocchi, it takes no time at all to put together. You get a really great balance of flavors – sweetness from the squash, earthiness from the mushrooms and sage, creamy tang from the goat cheese and of course the smoky-saltiness of the bacon.
Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce
2 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
1/2-1 C chicken broth
2 Tbsp sherry
1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sage
2 Tbsp olive oil
cracked black pepper
Preheat oven to 400. Remove skin and seeds from squash. Chop into small square chunks and place on a cookie sheet. Add chopped onion and whole garlic cloves to cookie sheet, mixing among the squash. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper, using a spatula to turn and coat the squash evenly with the oil and spices. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until squash is soft and has a roasted golden brown coating.
Transfer vegetable to a large food processor. Add 1/2 C chicken broth and blend to puree. Drizzle in sherry and vinegar and continue pureeing. Taste and season with sage, along with additional salt and pepper as needed until flavors pop and continue pureeing until very smooth. Puree in additional chicken broth as needed to reach desired consistency. Sauce should be semi-thick and creamy but still sauce-like. NOTE: The amount of chicken broth required may vary depending on the size of the squash you used – larger squash may need more broth to reach the right consistency.
Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Mushrooms, Goat Cheese & Bacon
2 pkgs prepared soft gnocchi
1 pkg baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbsp butter or olive oil
3-4 oz goat cheese
6 slices bacon
handful fresh or dried minced sage
In a small saute pan, heat butter or olive oil and add mushrooms. Saute over medium heat until mushrooms are cooked, about 4-6 minutes. Once mushrooms are mostly cooked, add half of squash sauce to the saute pan and stir to incorporate mushrooms. Warm sauce over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook bacon in a separate pan or in the microwave, about 5-7 minutes. Let bacon cool for 1 minute and chop into small chunks or crumbles. Boil water and cook gnocchi according to package instructions.
Plate gnocchi. Top with squash sauce, crumbled goat cheese, bacon bits and a dusting of sage.