Every so often, I crave a huge serving of pasta that tastes really good and that’s going to fill me up. I’m not sure how this craving comes about, but when it does, I don’t mess around. I go big.
This pasta dish brings whatever it is you’re used to all the way to another level. It’s not even close to the pasta dishes of yesteryear. I can remember many lives ago when I would boil some water, throw some dried pasta into it, strain it and pour some sauce all over whatever it was I just dumped in my bowl. I’d say that 99% of the time, after doing that, I was disappointed. There was always something missing, especially if I overcooked the pasta. There’s nothing worse than mush in a bowl.
Today’s recipe elevates things quite a bit. First and foremost, we use whole-grain pasta. Whole-grain offers a rich, nutty taste and truly goes well with the rest of this dish. Beyond that, a rich sauce adds to the texture and flavor. This sauce includes sauteed butternut squash, scallions, garlic, nutmeg, white wine, Parmesan and finally mascarpone cheese. While the sauce thickens beautifully before the cheeses are added, things really come together after. What results is a chewy pasta with a sauce that includes texture, depth and lots of flavor.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
2 Pounds Butternut Squash, Peeled, Seeded and Cut Into 1/2 Inch Pieces
6 Scallions, Thinly Sliced
5 Teaspoons Garlic, Minced
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1 Tablespoon All-Purpose Flour
2 1/4 Cups Vegetable Broth
1 Cup Dry White Wine
2 Ounces Parmesan Cheese, Grated
3 Tablespoons Mascarpone Cheese
2 Teaspoons Dried Sage
4 Teaspoons Lemon Juice
Regular Table Salt
Ground Black Pepper
1 Pound Dried Whole-Wheat Penne Pasta
1/2 Cup Pecans, Crushed and Toasted
I’d like to thank America’s Test Kitchen and their resource called The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook for what you see below. It definitely shows that each and every recipe in this book is tested for perfection. I’ve rarely made any mistakes while using these recipes.
Prep the Ingredients
Before doing anything with this recipe, I went ahead and prepped everything I could. This lessened the work I’d have to do later. Basically, I cut up the butternut squash, sliced the scallions, grated the cheese and toasted the pecans.
With that out of the way, I was able to move on to the actual cooking.
Warm a large skillet over medium heat. Then, add 1 tablespoon of oil to it and when it’s to temperature, add in the butternut squash. Cook the squash for about 20 minutes or until it begins to brown. Stir frequently.
When the squash has been lightly browned, remove it from the skillet and place it in a medium sized bowl.
Cook the Pasta
Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add 1 tablespoon of salt to it. When it begins to boil, add in the pasta and cook for about 8 minutes or until it just becomes tender. Don’t overcook the pasta or it will become too soft.
When the pasta is just soft, strain it and add it back to the pot. Then, add 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil to the pasta and mix until it’s all coated well. This will keep each piece from sticking together while you cook the rest of the food.
In the now empty skillet, add 1 more tablespoon of olive oil. Then, add the scallions, garlic and nutmeg. Cook and stir well for about 2 minutes. Then, add the flour and mix that into the rest of the ingredients for 1 more minute.
Next, slowly pour in the wine and broth. When that’s done, mix everything well, being sure to scrape the bottom of the skillet for fond.
Bring the liquid to a rolling simmer and then add the squash to the skillet.
Let the ingredients simmer for about 20 minutes. The goal here is to soften the squash and combine all the flavors of everything else.
Add Cheese & Others
When the squash has been softened sufficiently, turn off the heat. Then, add in the mascarpone cheese, Parmesan cheese, sage, lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper. Mix well.
Finally, add the sauce from the skillet into the large saucepan the pasta is in. Mix well and serve.
The Final Dish
After you place some of the pasta on each dish, be sure to top the servings with the toasted pecans. Pecans bring a lot to any dish.
Doesn’t this look good? I’m telling you, it fills you up and it really does have tons of flavor. I enjoyed it profusely.