Sunday, 1 March 2015

Rich & Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce

Hi there on Sunday night! Do you have some time to spare for cooking something nice tomorrow? Or do you have a butternut squash you don't know what to do with?
Stay with me then until the recipe is revealed ;-)

In fact I did not have a plan today for what to make for dinner....
But since my housemate went to the market today and brought home lots of things - which is great, Thanks! :-) - I just decided to go for what looked like it needed to be eaten first.
In that case it was a butternut squash.

Have you tried it before? Butternut is a quite sweet-ish sort of squash. It has much more flavour than the usual Halloween pumpkin, which doesn't taste like anything to me if I'm honest. It was even my favourite squash before my housemate brought home some green squash for the first time. Unfortunately I don't know the name of that one right now, but it really is delicious!

In this sauce though, butternut squash works just fine!
You could use Hokkaido, which is probably the most popular pumpkin in Germany. The sauce will taste quite different, though, since Hokkaido does not taste anywhere as sweet when cooked. Sweet potato, in my opinion, is kind of too sweet. Carrot alone I haven't tried yet, but carrot mixed with squash is quite good as well!

The recipe I started from I found a few years ago here on Oh She Glows.
Since then me and my Mum have changed it a couple of times and the following is the current version ;-)

Due to the nutritional yeast the sauce tastes a bit cheesy and not at like "healthy vegetables" ;-)
It is rich and creamy and is a perfect comfort food for wintery or rainy days.
There are a lot of similar recipes out there on the internet. They often describe the sauce as a "Mac'n Cheese Sauce". Since I've never tried that I cannot tell you if it does indeed taste like that. So if you try this and you know traditional English/American Mac'n Cheese then I'd love to hear what you think about that comparison!

for 3 people
450 g butternut squash, in cubes
olive oil
1tbsp butter
26 g cashew nuts
200 g water
1-2 tbsp flour
2-3 tbsp nutritional yeast
½ tsp mustard (vinegary & tangy, not sweet)
1 garlic clove, grated
nutmeg (best is freshly grated)
300 g pasta
250 g spinach, fresh (cut) or thawed

  • Cut up the squash. I find it easiest to cut it into rounds (or half-rounds if you're on the part where you scoop out the seeds) and then to cut the peel off the rounds instead of trying to peel the whole thing.
  • Place in a baking tray and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle on olive oil. Put into the oven and roast at 220°C for 40 to 60 minutes, so that it is slightly browned.
  • In the meantime make the sauce:
    • Grind cashews in a blender until they are as fine as they get. Add water and blend again.
    • Melt butter over low heat in a medium-sized pot. Have a for or whisk at hand. Pour cashew milk into the pot and add flour. Whisk until smooth. Turn heat up slightly. You want the mixture to simmer over low heat. Add in nutritional yeast, mustard, grated garlic, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Whisk. Make sure that the sauce bubbles slightly and, whisking frequently, let bubble uncovered for about 7-10 minutes. Let stand until squash is roasted.
  • Heat pasta water and cut or thaw spinach.
  • When the squash is roasted, put it into the pot with the sauce. With a stick blender blend up the sauce. Alternatively you could do this is a blender or food processor. If you have neither I think it should work if you mash up the squash with a potato masher as fine as you can and then whisk the sauce. I haven't tried that though, but I'm quite confident it will work.
  • Taste and season as desired.

  • Cook pasta. Reserve some cooking water in a cup. Drain pasta. Place drained pasta along with the spinach into the pot with the sauce. Thin out with pasta water as desired. Let pasta simmer on very low heat in the sauce for about 3-5 minutes. This will let them absorb the sauce better and will let spinach wilt (if it is fresh).
  • Enjoy!

The sauce (at the stage where you've just blended it, before you add spinach) also freezes well!

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