Butternut squash, pancetta and sage pasta

This was a dish that my sister told me she’d made that I knew I needed to try immediately. Light and delicate fresh tagliatelle with a creamy butternut and sage sauce (aka match made in heaven). The pancetta adds the necessary depth and saltiness though it can be left out if you’re veggie, just make up for it with lots of cheese.

I finally got around to cooking for my friends a few weeks ago and actually felt a bit nervous as their expectations were high after putting it off for so long. This is what I cooked for them and, thankfully, it went down a storm.

The original recipe is from Bon Appetit, I just changed it slightly for a punchier flavour and less washing up. The pasta can be made a couple of days ahead, as can the sauce, so all you need to do is fry the pancetta and grate some cheese before eating.

Squash can vary greatly in size but I always tend to buy pretty hefty ones (about 1.6 kg) which makes around 1200g of sauce (enough for 6-8 people depending on how saucy you like it).

Of course you can buy the pasta but making your own is so worth the effort if you have a machine. The recipe for fresh tagliatelle can be found here.

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Butternut squash, pancetta and sage tagliatelle

SERVES

Sauce serves 6-8

INGREDIENTS

For the sauce:

1 large butternut squash (about 1.6kg)
5 banana shallots or 6-7 shallots
3-4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp. dried or fresh rosemary
1 tbsp. chopped dried sage
Olive oil/ cold pressed rapeseed oil for roasting
Salt and cracked black pepper
350ml chicken stock
2 tbsp. chopped fresh sage
1 heaped tsp. vegetable bouillon
1-2 tbsp. nutritional yeast (optional)
Rock salt and cracked black pepper

For the pasta:

95g thinly sliced pancetta
100g fresh tagliatelle per person
Parmesan cheese to serve

METHOD

Pre-heat the oven to 180oC (fan oven).

Peel and de-seed the butternut squash and chop into chunks and lie them on a large baking tray.

Unpeel the shallots and slice in half or quarters. Place these in the spaces on the baking tray or on a another baking tray if there is no room.

Place the garlic cloves, with their skin on, into the spaces on the baking tray.

Sprinkle everything with the dried rosemary and sage and drizzle with oil. Season with salt and pepper and put into the oven for 30-40 minutes until the squash is soft.

When cooked, take the vegetables out of the oven and leave to cool completely.

Once cool, squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins and put them in a blender. Add the cooked squash and shallots and pour in the chicken stock (you may need to do this in batches if your blender is small). Blend until smooth. It should be a thick but pourable sauce.

Add the fresh sage, vegetable bouillon, nutritional yeast (if using) and blend again. Taste the sauce and add a good amount of rock salt and cracked black pepper to your taste. Blend again.

If you’re not using the sauce immediately, pour it into glass jars and store in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Slice the pancetta into small bits and fry in a dry pan until browned and crispy. Transfer to a piece of kitchen roll to drain any excess fat.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the pasta. Cook for 4-5 minutes, until al dente, then drain, reserving a small cup of the cooking water.

Put the cooked pasta back into the pan with the pancetta and add enough sauce for however many people you are cooking for. Heat on a low heat for a few minutes, just to warm the sauce, stirring gently (fresh pasta is delicate). Add some of the reserved cooking water if you want to thin the sauce and make it go further.

Serve on warm plates with grated Parmesan cheese and more black pepper.

 

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