To think that until a few years ago the only times I ate anything with pumpkin I had it when someone cooked it for me… I’m happy this has changed. Honestly now that I’m back from my honeymoon, as much as country life is beautiful, now that I’ve re-spent some time in a city, I really miss it. I miss all the attractions and the possibility to talk to random people and so to keep my spirits up, I spend more time in the kitchen and in front of my computer, getting ahead with the novel I started some time ago. So yesterday within the realm of my kitchen, I’ve been making a pasta bake which is my favourite way of having this particular carb: it’s comforting and so tasty!
Butternut Pasta Bake
Recipe for 4
Cook time: 45 min
Prep time: 20 min
800 g butternut (peeled and deseeded)
320 g short pasta (fusilli, penne, rigatoni…)
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 red onion
3 tbsp. chopped sage
½ – 1 dl water or vegetable stock
3 dl cream
2 dl milk
2 knobs butter
6 tbsp. grated cheese (+ 3-4 for topping
3 tbsp. pine nuts
2 tbsp. breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper
Cut the butternut into cubes (the smaller the pieces the quicker they’ll cook), chop the onion and pass the garlic cloves through a garlic crusher.
Place a pan on a medium heat and add the olive oil and the onion. Cook for 4-5 min. stirring occasionally. Add the sage leaves and the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes.
Now add the butternut cubes and season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes before pouring in a little water or alternatively some stock (about ½-1 dl). Preferably add the water little by little during the cooking process rather that all at once. Cover the pan and cook until the butternut will have become soft, don’t forget to stir occasionally.
Once the butternut is soft, transfer the content of the pan to a bowl and mash it with a potato masher or if you want a very smooth result use a food processor. Place the mass back in the pan (always on a medium fire), add the cream and the milk and combine the ingredients by stirring. Add the knob of butter and correct taste with salt and pepper if needed. Remove the pan from the fire and add the grated cheese and stir to combine.
While the butternut is softening or once the sauce is done, prepare the pasta in salted boiling water but make sure you cook it until just al dente or once you cook it in the oven it will become too soft. To stop the cooking process, once you drain the pasta pass it under cold water. Add the drained pasta to the sauce and stir to combine.
Transfer the ingredients to a lightly greased baking dish and top with the remaining grated cheese, breadcrumbs and pine nuts (optionally add small pieces of butter on top which will help the browning process). Bake in the oven at 190°C for about 20 min.