Butternut Squash and Bacon Pasta

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Can you believe that November is upon us? Tomorrow evening little kids (and more than a few young adults) will be dressing up as ghosts, goblins, princesses, and, inevitably, Miley Cirus. We’ll wake up on Friday to a sense of urgency to move on to the next holiday….boxes of mini candy bars will be on clearance and “Jingle Bells” will have us all thinking about chestnuts roasting and candy canes.

But let’s hold on to autumn for a little longer, shall we?  I don’t want to rush it. Let’s talk squash.

It had never occurred to me to puree squash and use it as a pasta sauce until I read this recipe. It made me very excited. I also feel there are certain foods that just love to be together…this includes bacon and butternut squash. The sweetness of the squash and the saltiness of the bacon is an irresistible combination.

A few notes:
1/ Boiling the squash makes this a fast and conceivable weeknight meal. If you prefer not to peel and dice the squash (hard to argue that it is a bit of a task), I think you could simply halve the squash, scoop out the seeds, and roast it at 400F for 25-35 minutes.  I think I might try this method next time to see how the roasting might enhance the flavours.
2/ The author of the recipe says we must not skip the step of frying the sage. Realistically, for an everyday meal, I’m probably going to skip it next time and get the sage flavour from chopping it and stirring it in.  

Ingredients
3 tablespoons oil
8 sage leaves
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped
1 cup, or so, of broth or water
4-5 slices of bacon, chopped into ½ inch pieces
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces pasta
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the squash until fork tender. The time will depend on how big you’ve cut the squash…but 12-15 minutes is a fair estimate
  2. While the squash is cooking, heat the 3 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet until the surface is ‘shimmering’.  Sometimes I tilt the pan so the oil forms a deeper pool. Cook the sage leaves (just a couple at a time) for about 30 seconds or less. They will appear crisp, but still bright green. Season with salt. Pour out the oil; you’ll be using this pan again.
  3. When the squash is cooked, remove the squash from the boiling water with a slotted spoon. You’ll be using this boiling squash water to cook the pasta. Add the pasta and cook until al dente.
  4. Meanwhile, add the squash to a food processor and process until smooth. Add liquid until desired consistency.
  5. Heat that frying pan you used for the sage. Fry the bacon until desired crispiness. Remove from pan.  Reserve 1-2 tablespoons of the bacon fat.
  6. Cook the onion until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour squash into frying pan and mix with onions and garlic. Add parmesan cheese, half the bacon, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Combine desired amount of sauce with your pasta. Serve, topped with fried sage leaves, remaining bacon, fresh pepper and additional parmesan cheese

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 Source: Adapted from: Two Peas and Their Pod

PS.. Boo

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