Here I am trying to figure out what kind of recipe I should share as I dust off the ol’ blog. Do I make something new? Revisit a favorite? What to do? Well, I started looking around my kitchen and the basket of butternut squash said what about me? Alright, I said to myself. Butternut squash, you are up! The million dollar question is what should I do with it? All the usual options were there like roasting it, making ravioli, pasta, soup or something along those lines. I really wanted to do something different. After a few minutes of looking at recipes, it was decided. I was going to make butternut squash alfredo. The premise is to use the butternut squash as your sauce base that mimics a classic alfredo. I was skeptical at the start, but it didn’t last long.
Alright, let’s get it!
Butternut Squash Alfredo
**First, recipe credit and authorship belongs to Krista of Joyful Healthy Eats. The full and complete recipe can be found here. I have made changes according to my own interpretation, but the recipe is from Krista’s website.**
I tested a half recipe and my changes reflect that, but they will fit the constructs a of full recipe.
Step 1) I sweated the onion and garlic over medium heat and added a pinch of salt and pepper.
Step 2) Bring the mixture of onions, garlic, butternut squash, and thyme to a gentle simmer until the squash is fork tender. I used dried thyme, which is fine, just make sure to let it bloom in the hot oil. Also, I didn’t feel the sage was necessary, but if you want it feel free to add it. I added a few more splashes of stock as I noticed the liquid was reducing quickly. I used a little more than a half cup of stock. Don’t panic when you taste the squash and it is under-seasoned. The seasoning will be adjusted as we finish the sauce before plating.
Step 3) Krista suggests adding salt first and then pureeing the sauce until smooth. I felt like this was a mistake because if you over salt and then puree the sauce you might have a problem. Puree the sauce first in a blender or food processor and then adjust the seasoning. I also added a touch more milk to the sauce as well. It was a little thick and the milk gives better mouth feel than the stock. Keep in mind, if you plan on topping the pasta with parmesan cheese or different cured meats that will change the salt level also.
Step 4) Reuse the pan that you cooked the squash in to cook the bacon. Just wipe it out and you are ready to go. There is no reason to make more dishes for yourself. Well, unless you having someone doing the dishes for you. LOL Admittedly, I didn’t use quality bacon and the pasta suffered as I used a big box store bacon. That isn’t a knock on big box store bacon, but that I could tell the flavor profile wasn’t the same as what I normally buy from my local butcher.
Step 5) Add the sauce a little at a time until the pasta is thoroughly coated with sauce. Remember, you can always add more sauce. The sauce should be thick, like the consistency of a cheese sauce or a hollandaise.
I topped my finished pasta with bacon and basil chiffonade. The basil gives the dish some freshness and that beautiful floral quality. You could also garnish with parmesan or a pinch of chili powder for a little heat.
What surprised me the most was that the sauce, even before I had tossed it with the pasta, tasted like a bechamel. It felt like I was eating a cream sauce with a hint of sweetness. It was rich, thick, and I didn’t feel like I was missing anything from a classic alfredo. In addition, it took no time at all to make. It was my first attempt making this recipe and that makes the process take a little longer, but it came together so quickly at the end.
To be honest, I was looking for this recipe to not turn out. It was missing some basic things that I talked about above. Plus, I didn’t feel like there would be enough flavor that could be coaxed out of this simple sauce. I, however, was absolutely wrong and couldn’t have been happier with how it turned out.
Here a few final thoughts that I want to share. You could easily add a protein and really make this dish stand out. Also, you could reinforce the dish with mushroom or other vegetables. I will say this dish is intended to be simple so don’t add the kitchen sink. If you want make the sauce a little richer you can use half and half or a little heavy cream as your “milk” component. I am considering just making a batch of the “sauce” to freeze or have some leftover sauce in the fridge for a quick dinner. In fact, I do have a little sauce still in my fridge right now….I did use gluten free pasta, but you could use regular pasta as well. Speaking of pasta, I used gluten free penne as you may have noticed in the photo. The penne holds the sauce really well with the ridges and hollow center. However, that does impact the “saucy” factor. If more sauce is your jam then add a little extra or use a different noodle such as the classic fettuccine or linguine.
Feel free to send me an email, post a comment here or on my IG account and tell me what you think about this recipe.
P.S. Do you guys like the new super compact format? If no, what else would like or want to see? Let me know!