Butternut Squash with Fresh Sage and Pappardelle

Ingredients:

1 large sweet onion, coarsely chopped
Pinch of salt
1 (2 lbs, or 3 cups) butternut squash, peeled, deseeded, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 T olive oil
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
20 fresh sage leaves, torn into halves or thirds
1/8 t nutmeg
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 lb pappardelle (or other wide pasta such as tagliatelle)
1 1/2 ladles salty pasta cooking water (see directions)
1/2 cup ricotta, low fat
1/4 cup walnuts, smashed
2 T fresh flat Italian parsley
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan

Spoon Mage™ Variations:

1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes either as garnish or incorporated into the cooking process along with the sage
1/4 c cream added to the sauce about 4 minutes before tossing with the pasta
Another ladle of pasta water for a thinner sauce
Double the ricotta for a thicker sauce, or use full fat ricotta for richer flavor
Add salt

Directions:

Chop the onion. Sharpen a big knife. Use it and a kitchen mallet to slice the squash in half. Then peel, deseed, and cut the squash to 1/2 inch cubes.

In a large tall sided skillet set over medium heat, add 2 T olive oil. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the onion with the pinch of salt and sauté for 5 minutes.

Add the butternut squash and continue to sauté for about 10 minutes, or until the pieces are softened.

Add 1/4 cup water to the pan and cover, steaming the squash for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil lightly salted water and begin to cook the pasta.

Add ground pepper, nutmeg, and sage leaves to the squash and stir for 2 minutes.

Add the garlic and stir for 2 minutes.

Reduce the heat, recover, and keep warm.

After the pasta has cooked halfway through (about 4-5 minutes), return the squash pan to medium heat, and add 1 1/2 ladles of pasta water, stir well, and bring the sauce to a simmer.

Add the ricotta, swirl with a wooden spoon to incorporate.

Use a potato masher tool or the back of a wooden spoon and smash about half of the squash to create a thick sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings. If the sauce looks too thick, add another 1/2 – 1 ladle of pasta water. If you are using cream, this is the time to add it. The sauce should be thick and creamy, but not so thick that a spoon stands in it.

Drain the cooked pasta, return it to the pot. Add the squash sauce, walnuts, parsley, and Parmesan. Mix well. Serve with hot red pepper flakes, more crushed walnuts, and chopped parsley.

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