Butternut squash is probably my favorite to use in soups and sauces because the texture, (once pureed), is so silky and velvety smooth, and so versatile. I like to roast my squash ahead of time, (like before I go to work), because it makes for a pretty quick dish later in the evening on a busy night! I caramelized some onions, garlic, and fennel to deepen the flavor, and added some tumeric for a beautiful "earthy" flavor, as well as some added health benefits.
****Tumeric has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Nutmeg would be a nice addition, but I chose instead to add some Dark LaMesa chili powder for bolder flavor. Chicken broth was used for flavor, as well as "thinning" out the sauce. You could also add some half & half, or heavy cream at the end for added richness.
This is really a simple dish- not complex at all, but so healthy and delicious! The sausage adds another level of flavor and heartiness to the dish. I chose a mild ground sausage, but feel free to add a "spicy/hot" style if you prefer. This recipe makes about 2 quarts, so you can either freeze the leftover sauce if you'd like, or cut the recipe in half. Either way, it's absolutely delicious, healthy, and a great use of one of my favorite squashes!
Yield: 2 Quarts sauce (6-8 servings)
Prep Time: 40min.
1 small Butternut squash
1/2 onion (sliced)
2 cloves garlic
1 small bulb fennel (sliced)
4+ cups chicken broth or stock
1 t. ground tumeric
1/2 t. chili powder ***I used Dark LaMesa, but any style is fine!
salt & pepper
1# ground sausage (cooked)
1 box of whole wheat penne pasta (or regular if you prefer)
Optional items to add: Sage, basil, roasted red peppers, spinach, Asiago, Parmesan, Pecorino cheese, heavy cream, Prosciutto, Pancetta, etc.
1) Slice the squash in half, place both halves on a foil lined baking sheet, remove seeds, brush olive oil, (or melted butter), on both squash halves, season with salt & pepper, and bake at 350F for 45-60min.
Remove from oven, allow to cool, and wrap in foil and refrigerate until ready to make sauce.
2) Before beginning sauce, begin to boil water for cooking pasta, and cook the sausage, and set aside.
In a saute pan on medium heat, place about 2-3 T oil or butter, and after 30sec or so, add the onions, garlic, and fennel. Saute until it all looks nice and caramelized. Transfer to a 2 Qt. pot, and add 2 cups chicken broth on medium heat. Remove the cooked squash from refrigerator, remove peel/ stem, quarter, and add to pot carefully. After sauce begins to simmer, lower heat and using an immersion blender, puree the sauce at this time. Cover- as it will begin to bubble & "pop"! (Add spices, stir, and adjust thickness by adding more broth if necessary.) Adjust seasoning at this time as well.
3) Cook the pasta according to directions on package. Ladle enough sauce over the pasta, and add sausage. Gently toss together. Garnish with fennel fronds, shaved parmesan, sage, etc. and serve immediately.
For leftover sauce, simply allow to cool and pour into gallon freezer bags, (or quarts for smaller portions), and freeze for up to 1 month.