Oh my, oh my, oh my...the first time I had butternut squash ravioli with browned butter it hit my taste buds and exploded. It's savory. No, wait, it's a little sweet. Is that a bit of spiciness? And the texture...that silky smoothness from the pasta and a tiny bit of butter. Yes, you heard right, it just takes a bit of butter...not a lot. (And remember, butter is not the enemy we've been led to believe.)
I wanted to recreate similar flavors, that creamy squash and herb-y sage, in a simple pasta that can be put together fairly easily. Who do you think I called upon to help me with this task? Nonna Anna, of course!
To make this really special, you can make the homemade squash pasta noodles. Remember making salt and flour models in elementary school? (Do they still do that?) Well, making fresh pasta is easier than making those models...and you get to eat it! So much better than just getting a grade.
I decided to try to do this pasta without a pasta machine. When I told Vince what I was doing he said, "What's the big deal? Italians have been making pasta without machines for hundreds of years!" ...He's right, of course! But we all think that we need a machine and a lot of time...not so, my Gr8 Friends. I did use a food processor to speed up the dough making (I think more people probably have food processors than pasta machines).
- I roasted the squash the night before and refrigerated it. (You can do this while you're eating dinner and cleaning up. It should take about 50 minutes.)
- 10 minutes to make the dough, including kneading by hand.
- Cover with plastic and let it rest for 30 minutes.
- While the dough rests, cut the remaining squash into 1/2" cubes;
- and make the browned butter;
- and put together the sauce;
- then roll the dough thin.
- Roll it up and cut with a knife!
Now, please don't let the lengthy directions deter you from trying this. It really isn't difficult, I just wanted to make sure that the steps were specific so you get the Gr8 result that I got!
Browned Butter Squash Pasta
Butternut Squash Sauce Ingredients:
- 1 2-pound Butternut squash,, divided
- 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil,, plus extra oil to rub on squash for roasting
- 16 medium to large sage leaves,, divided
- 2 whole garlic cloves lightly smashed and peeled
- Salt & freshly ground pepper
- 1 to 1-1/2 cups pasta water
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter,, for the browned butter
Butternut Squash Pasta Ingredients:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 1 egg and 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup of the roasted butternut squash
Roast the Squash:
- Heat the oven to 400ºF.
- Cut the squash cross-wise in half and then half again lengthwise. You should have 4 pieces.
- Rub the squash with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Lay the squash cut sides down on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
- Roast for 25 minutes, then turn over and roast for another 20-25 minutes until squash is fork tender.
Fry the Sage Leaves:
- Heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering and add 8 whole sage leaves.
- Fry until crisp, this should only take a few seconds.
- Remove to a paper towel to drain and sprinkle with coarse salt. Set aside the sage and set aside the pan with the sage scented oil to use for the sauce.
Make the Pasta:
- Put the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until incorporated. Side Note: Nonna Anna mixes her pasta by hand, which you can definitely do!
- Add the eggs and the 1/2 cup of the roasted squash to the flour mixture and pulse. (I use the most tender piece of the squash.) The pasta will start to come together. Pulse just until well combined.
- Remove the dough from the processor, place on a lightly floured surface and knead the pasta, adding flour as required, until smooth. This whole process should take about 10 minutes.
- Cover the dough with plastic and let rest for at least 30 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 4 pieces.
- Using a rolling pin, roll the first piece into a long, narrow rectangle. (Keep the other pieces covered with the plastic so they don't dry out.) Roll the pasta as thin as a pasta noodle, less than 1/8". Make sure to keep your surface well-floured while rolling. (You can also use your pasta maker here.)
- Cut the pasta into 1/2" strips (or narrower, your preference). Lightly sprinkle the sheet of pasta with flour, then starting at the narrow end, roll the sheet of pasta. Then cut the tube of pasta with a knife every 1/2" and unroll and sprinkle with more flour. The flour helps keep the pasta from sticking together.
- Gather the pasta into a nest and lay onto a parchment covered baking sheet.
- Repeat Steps 8 through 11 with the remaining 3 pieces of pasta.
Make the Browned Butter:
- In a small saucepan over medium heat melt the butter. As it melts it will start to foam and the color will turn from light yellow to tan to brown. Watch it carefully, this does not take long.
- As soon as the butter is lightly browned and emitting a nutty aroma, remove it from the heat and pour into a heatproof container (I use my Pyrex measuring cup) to cool.
- You can use it as is or strain it through a cheesecloth to remove the brown bits. Some people like the flavor the brown bits add, your choice.
Make the Sauce:
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, this is to cook the pasta.
- Peel and cut the remaining squash into 1/2-inch dice.
- Overt medium-high heat, reheat the pan with the reserved sage scented oil and add the garlic cloves.
- Tear up the remaining 8 sage leaves and drop them into the oil. Cook, stirring for a minute.
- Add the diced butternut squash and salt and pepper to your taste.
- Sauté, stirring occasionally, until squash cubes are lightly caramelized.
- When the squash cubes are caramelized, turn down the heat and remove the garlic pieces.
- Add the pasta to the boiling water - Lift the nests and separate the noodles as you are dropping them into the water. Then stir so the noodles don't stick together.
- After a few minutes test for doneness by taking one noodle out of the water and biting into it. If it is to your liking, then drain the pasta, but remember to reserve a couple cups of the water. Fresh pasta cooks much faster than dried noodles.
- Turn the heat up on the squash, add 1 cup of the pasta water, let it boil and settle down, add more water if more liquid is necessary.
- Lift the cooked pasta into the squash pan and stir, then add the browned butter.
- Stir to evenly distribute the cubes of squash.
- Lay the fried sage leaves on top and serve! Or, you can divide into four individual serving bowls and top with fried sage leaves.
Gr8 Do Ahead Tips:
- The squash can be roasted a day ahead of time: Cover and refrigerate. When ready to continue, start with "Fry the Sage Leaves" section of the directions.
- The pasta dough can be made the day before, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerated overnight.
- Alternatively, the pasta noodles can be made ahead of time, tossed in flour, placed into plastic zip top bags, and frozen. Lay the bags flat in the freezer. It will keep for up to a month.
- The Browned Butter can be made a couple days ahead of time. I just reheat in the microwave in 20 second intervals.