My husband bought me two cookbooks for Mother's Day this year and I've completely fallen in love with them. I know you're probably thinking cookbooks are an unromantic gift, but I'm definitely the kind of woman who appreciates getting a new toaster for Christmas or an immersion blender for my birthday (both are true stories!). One of the cookbooks I received was Jamie Oliver's Comfort Food and I've really enjoyed cooking out of it because the recipes are simple, so delicious and easily adaptable. This Butternut Squash Pasta is a recipe I've adapted from one of Jamie's; I put my own spin on his Squash Sauce and it is SO good! It's creamy and delicious and the perfect healthy dish. I know you're going to love it as much as my Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Soup...maybe even more!
This recipe is adapted from Jamie Oliver's Gnocchi and Squash Sauce recipe from his Comfort Food cookbook. I simplified it by replacing the homemade gnocchi with whole grain pasta and adapting the squash sauce to my family's tastes and to make it Weight Watchers-friendly. I hope you enjoy it!
1 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp chili flakes
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2" chunks
3 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
340g whole grain pasta, cooked in salted water according to package directions (reserve 1 cup of the pasta water). I like to use Farfalle (bow-tie pasta) for this recipe, but Penne also works well.
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
Peel and mince your garlic, prepare the thyme and chili flakes, and prepare your butternut squash for cooking by peeling it, scraping out the seeds and all the stringy bits, and cutting it into 1/2-inch chunks. Butternut squash can be difficult to peel and chop so a great trick is to stick it in the microwave whole for 2-3 minutes on high before trying to peel it. Microwaving it slightly will cook the flesh just under the skin making it much easier to peel and chop.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil, then the minced garlic, chili flakes and the fresh thyme leaves (scrape them off the twiggy bits using your fingers).
Saute the garlic, chili flakes and thyme for about one minute before adding the chunks of squash. Stir until the squash is coated in the garlic mixture and then add the vegetable stock and cover and let it simmer for about 25 minutes, checking on it every 5 minutes or so and giving it a good stir.
During this time, cook your pasta according to the package directions, being sure to reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water after the pasta is cooked and drained.
After about 25 minutes the squash pieces should fall apart when you try to pierce them with a fork - this is the texture you need for this sauce. Stir the mixture well until the squash pieces fall apart completely and the mixture becomes somewhat smooth.
Add the cooked pasta to the skillet with the squash sauce and add the pasta water about 1/4 cup at a time until the sauce becomes totally smooth and not at all thick and sticky. You may not need to add all the pasta water you've reserved, so be sure to stop adding water when you've achieved the texture you desire.
Portion the pasta and sauce immediately and top with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese before serving!
The addition of Parmesan cheese creates a perfectly balanced dish as the sharpness of the cheese is the perfect contrast to the smooth-tasting sweetness of the squash sauce. This dish is the perfect side dish to serve alongside roasted chicken or pork, but it also makes a filling vegetarian meal all on its own.
This recipe makes 6 large servings at only 7 Weight Watchers PointsPlus per serving (there are 40 PointsPlus in the entire recipe) and it's packed with healthy ingredients, so it's really a great fall meal to help you stay on track.
I hope you enjoy this recipe! Let me know in the comments below, what's your favourite way to enjoy squash this season?