Monday, October 18, 2010

Pasta with Butternut Squash, Sage, and Pine Nuts: Delicious and Borderline

Today on Serious Eats: Broccoli Rabe with Turkey Sausage and Grapes, an offbeat, healthy winner from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything.

Some days, we define a “healthy” recipe as a produce-based, vitamin-packed powerhouse of unadulterated wholesomeness, designed to fuel you through most major decathalons.

Other days, “healthy” implies we’ve lightened existing recipes, giving readers slightly less deleterious options to heavy, nutritionally bereft mealtime favorites.

Today’s dish is definitely one of those second thingies, in that it very nearly skirts the boundaries of our mission statement. Which is to say, the ingredients will cost you a Hamilton, and ultimately, the whole shebang isn't terribly diet-friendly.

Still, Pan-Fried Pasta with Butternut Squash, Sage, and Pine Nuts IS cheap and healthy … to an extent. It avoids processed foods, includes massive doses of Vitamins A and C, and contains significantly less fat than the original recipe. It’s pretty cheap for a Sunday night dinner, too, or for entertaining guests. In fact, the original Kitchn author served the dish at her wedding, to her guests’ infinite glee.

Plus, there’s that scent. To me, sage is the fragrance equivalent of a seeing a unicorn in the wild. It’s rare, magically delicious, and nobody believes you when you try to describe it. In other words, this recipe will make your whole house reek of delight.

Of course, if you make it yourself, there are a few things to know:

1) Next to shaving my knees, my least favorite activity is cubing butternut squash. On one hand, if you really feel like hacking something to pieces, it’s great for getting your aggression out. On the other hand, if you buy it pre-cubed, you won’t bleed as much

2) Pine nuts are a good 33% of the price here. In my humblest of opinions, they’re not vital to the success of the dish. If you want to just sprinkle a few on the top of each serving OR leave ‘em out entirely, you’ll save between $2 and $4.

3) A few commenters on the original Kitchn post mentioned this recipe is a little dry. It’s supposed to be kind of arid, but shouldn’t taste like the Sahara. If you’re finding it less than moist, stir in some reserved pasta water until it reaches the consistency you like.

Ultimately, Pasta with Butternut Squash, Sage, and Pine Nuts is a minor indulgence that's totally worth a little extra whatever. Enjoy, sweet readers, and don't think twice about it.

(Incidentally, this marks CHG's 1,000th post. Hooray! I wonder if we get cufflinks.)

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If you like this, you’ll surely enjoy:
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Pasta with Butternut Squash, Fried Sage, and Pine Nuts
Serves 4 or 5.
Adapted from The Kitchen.


1 medium butternut squash (2 to 3 pounds), skinned, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 small sweet onion, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup fresh sage leaves, divided
12 ounces farfalle pasta
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
2/3 cup Parmesan, grated, shredded, or shaved
Cooking spray

1) Preheat oven 375°F. Cover a baking sheet with tin foil and spray with cooking spray.

2) In a medium bowl, mix squash, onion, garlic and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Mince half the sage leaves and toss those in, as well. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir again. Spread mixture in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake 35-40 minutes, stirring twice for even roasting. Squash should be soft at the end.

3) Meanwhile, cook farfalle in a medium pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water. Set aside.

4) In a large skillet, heat remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. (It should be really hot.) Add remaining sage leaves and cook until crispy, about 1 or 2 minutes. Remove with a spider or slotted spoon to a small bowl. Salt lightly. Crush or chop to little pieces.

5) Add half the pasta, half the squash mixture, and half the fried sage to the hot pan, making sure it’s not too crowded. (You want this to fry, not steam.) Cook for about 5 minutes, or “until the pasta is heated through and getting crispy on some of the edges,” stirring frequently. Add pine nuts and cook for 1 more minute. Pour into bowl and stir in half the parmesan.

6) Repeat Step #5 with remaining ingredients.

NOTE: So, a few commenters on the original Kitchn post mentioned this recipe is a little dry. It’s supposed to be kind of arid, but shouldn’t taste like the Sahara. If you’re finding it less than moist, stir in your reserved pasta water until it reaches the consistency you like.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, Protein, and Price Per Serving
Four servings: 631 calories, 23.3 g fat, 5.7 g fiber, 20.9 g protein, $2.60
Five servings: 505 calories, 18.6 g fat, 4.6 g fiber, 16.7 g protein, $2.07

Calculations
1 medium butternut squash (2 to 3 pounds), skinned, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 28 ounces): 357 calories, 0.8 g fat, 15.9 g fiber, 7.9 g protein, $1.69
1 small sweet onion, peeled and diced: 29 calories, 0.1 g fat, 1 g fiber, 0.6 g protein, $0.39
3 cloves garlic, minced: 13 calories, 0 g fiat, 0.2 g fiber, 0.6 g protein, $0.12
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided: 358 calories, 40.5 g fat, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein, $0.36
Salt and pepper: negligible calories, fat, fiber, protein, $0.02
1/2 cup fresh sage leaves, divided: negligible calories, fat, fiber, protein, $1.99
12 ounces farfalle pasta: 1200 calories, 6 g fat, 12 g fiber, 42 g protein, $0.75
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted: 280 calories, 26.7 g fat, 1.3 g fiber, 6.7 g protein, $3.29
2/3 cup Parmesan, grated, shredded, or shaved: 287 calories, 19 g fat, 0 g fiber, 25.6 g protein, $1.76
TOTALS: 2524 calories, 93.1 g fat, 22.8 g fiber, 83.4 g protein, $10.37
PER SERVING (TOTAL/4): 631 calories, 23.3 g fat, 5.7 g fiber, 20.9 g protein, $2.60
PER SERVING (TOTAL/5): 505 calories, 18.6 g fat, 4.6 g fiber, 16.7 g protein, $2.07

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6 comments:

Libby said...

I've made this several times before and it is soooo tasty. I also disagree about the pine nuts - I think they are pretty important to the dish and make a huge difference if they are toasted first (I forgot to toast them last time and it wasn't nearly as good). They are very expensive though, and that drives me crazy. I can't tell you how many times I've complained to anyone who will listen about what a bummer it is that pine nuts are so pricey. I may try this with dish with less of them next time though, just to save a few bucks.

Froogalers said...

I've made similar recipe, but without the butternut squash. Probably because the work it takes to get it out, however, given how yummy it sounds, I may give it a try. Thanks for the recipe!

Mariaa said...

I've actually made a pasta recipe using butternut squash (which can be found via myrecipes.com, search "fresh vegetable penne" if anyone's interested) and I also hate cubing the squash! So instead, I slice it in half (which in itself is a task), and then roast it before cutting it up. My recipe involves pureeing the squash at the end, though, so I'm not sure if it would yield the same results in a recipe where it appears that the end result is more...chunky. But it looks great! I love the idea of frying the pasta!

Ricki said...

Sounds fantastic! I love those flavors together. And I'm with you on the cubing squash thing: hate it, hate it! ;) Congrats on 1000 posts--that is quite the achievement!

Iara said...

I make this in a different way. I cook the squash until it is soft, and turn it into a sauce.
Browning the sage leaves is CRITICAL!
And I use roasted walnuts instead... so good with this.

Courtney said...

i just made this tonight and added broccoli and bell pepper. it smelled and tasted so wonderful! thanks for posting!