Yes, it’s another squash recipe. I can’t help it, I’ve already eaten 8 of them this fall! This one is an acorn squash pasta recipe, no not pasta made of acorn squash, but spaghetti noodles with big beautiful chunks of acorn squash, a super savory sage brown butter sauce, and loads of freshly grated parmesan. It’s so good that my husband actually asks for leftovers to take to work the next day *GASP!*. This man does not typically like leftovers!
I love simple pasta recipes that are fast and easy to prepare. Don’t get me wrong, lasagna, homemade ravioli and a hearty ragu all have their place, but when it’s been a long day at work, simple is the way to go. Sometimes I just drizzle pasta with olive oil and sprinkle it with cheese. Maybe I’ll cook some peas or broccoli with the pasta to get my vegetable serving in.
But when I want to make it a little more comforting, I go for the butter. A butter pasta sauce seems somewhat indulgent, I feel like I’m treating myself. And when it’s a browned butter sauce, oh baby! Talk about comfort food. Browned butter is basically butter that is cooked until it goes from liquid gold to a nutty brown. It’s not quite burnt, but that added color gives it earthy nutty notes that will make people ask what your secret ingredient is.
The French term is beurre noisette which literally means hazelnut butter, referring to the nutty taste and color, not the actual presence of any nuts. Browning butter is shockingly easy. You melt butter over low heat which causes the butter fats and milk solids to separate. (Somehow milk solids just doesn’t sound appetizing to me). The milk solids naturally sink to the bottom of the pan and those are what begin to brown as they heat, leading to the warm nutty flavor and aroma.
When I did this recipe in the Healthy Cooking on a Tight Budget Class a lot of people seemed intimidated at the thought of browning butter. But I shared a few tips and demonstrated and now at least 5 people have told me they made it with no problems! First, stay close and watch your butter. It’s easy for it to go from brown to burnt so don’t leave it unattended. Second, use a silver pot or pan so you can easily see the color of your butter. I’ve made it enough that I can tell by smell when it’s done, but with a silver pan you can see exactly what stage the butter is in.
Lastly, keep your heat down to medium low. It will take a little bit longer but will be the safer route. (I do it on a higher temperature and laugh like a mad scientist at the foaming bubbling butter, eagerly anticipating the instant I must snatch it off the heat to prevent it from turning into burned butter. I know, I’m weird.)
Sage is an herb that I think was totally created for pairing with brown butter! It has a slightly peppery woodsy flavor that perfectly compliments the nuttiness of brown butter. The leaves are beautifully soft and leathery and it grows SO easily that I have about 6 plants of it in my backyard right now.
For this pasta recipe I use leftover acorn squash that I’ve cooked on a previous night. I’m a big fan of repurposing leftovers, and with just two of us a whole acorn squash goes a long way. If you’re not sure how to cook acorn squash, I give step by step cutting and cooking directions in my Vegetarian Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe. (This is the recipe I use the leftover squash from as well, so it has some butter and sugar in the squash, but the pasta recipe works fine with plain squash too)
I’m still playing quite a bit with squash, I have a couple pumpkins and a butternut left. I’m thinking for my next pasta recipe I want to do a kind of squash spaghetti sauce, pureeing the squash with other vegetables to make a rich and cheesy sauce to go over the noodles. Do you have a favorite squash pasta recipe?
Acorn Squash and Sage Brown Butter Spaghetti RecipeServes 2-4
2-4 servings of spaghetti noodles
3 TBS unsalted butter
8 large sage leaves, chopped
¼ cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ an acorn squash cooked, peeled and cubed
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
small sage leaves to garnish
Cook spaghetti according to package instructions. Meanwhile melt the butter in a large skillet or a pot on medium heat and let it bubble and foam until golden brown. Turn heat down and add chopped sage and minced onion and garlic. Once onion has softened add the cubed acorn squash.
Stir well and cook until squash is heated through. When spaghetti is ready, drain it and toss with the brown butter and sage vegetables. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan and garnished with small sage leaves.
Approximate cost/serving: I grow my own sage which makes it practically free, and I get Parmesan in bulk at Sam’s and grate it right before serving. Squash is so cheap this time of year, so the whole recipe was about $2.30 to make. It served 4 with a side salad so just 58 cents a serving.
Vegetarian/Gluten Free: Yes to vegetarian, for gluten free use gluten free pasta.