The still life arrangement of seasonal fruit and vegetables on our kitchen table is slowly transitioning from winter to summer. It makes me think of the living statues you find at carnivals. Looking at them, it’s hard to perceive any change in movement at all, but if you walk away and return five minutes later, the statue is in an entirely new position. It’s the same with the table – bowls that contained oranges and apples suddenly contain fresh berries and lemons. Asparagus, chive blossoms and herbs from the garden are appearing next to aging pumpkins and squash.
I had three very large pumpkins, meant for Jack o’lanterns that were never carved, last fall. I put them out for the squirrels. Watching the squirrels enjoy the pumpkins, chewing holes in the sides and crawling in and out with their cheeks full of seeds is more fun than carving faces in the pumpkins, at least in my opinion.
Yesterday, I roasted the last winter squash. A butternut squash that had been sitting on the table for far too long. I blended it into a rich and creamy sauce, seasoned with warm spices like cayenne and nutmeg, then tossed it with Italian sausage and spaghetti. Sweet, creamy, with a hint of spice. Pasta is always a hit with my family and this one is everything I love in a dish.
Butternut Squash Spaghetti
1 medium butternut squash
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 TBSP unsalted butter
1 onion, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 tsp ground sage
1/8 tsp grated nutmeg + more for garnish
a dash of Cayenne pepper, to taste
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese + more for serving
1 pound sweet italian sausage, crumbled
1 pound spaghetti
Heat the oven to 400 F/ 200 C. Line a sheet pan with foil.
Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Rub with a teaspoon of olive oil, salt & pepper. Place, cut side up, on the pan and roast for an hour, until the squash is very tender.
In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the remaining teaspoon of oil and cook the sausage until brown and cooked through. Remove, drain on paper towels and pour off the fat from the pan.
Place the pan back on the heat and add the butter. Cook the onion and garlic in the butter until soft. With a spoon, scoop out the roasted squash from the skin and add to the pot. Add the sage, nutmeg, and a dash of cayenne pepper (to taste). Stir in the chicken broth and heavy cream. Bring to a simmer. Season with salt & pepper, to taste. Using an immersion blender, or in batches in a conventional blender, purée the mixture into a smooth and velvety sauce. Pour the sauce back into the pan and stir in the sausage. Bring to a simmer. Stir in 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese.
Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in salted water. Before draining, remove a cup full of pasta water and set aside. Drain the pasta and toss into the pan with the sauce. Use the reserved cooking water to thin the sauce, only if necessary.
Serve the pasta, topped with freshly grated nutmeg and more Parmesan cheese.