I cooked this Mario Batali recipe years ago and each fall I remember how much I loved the pasta and butternut squash combo, but it took me until recently to browse the internet to find it again. Don’t be scared by the amount of garlic in the dish, as it mellows considerably as it cooks. However, our local garlic tends to have a stronger flavour than imported garlic so I would recommend cutting it back to 4 locally grown garlic cloves.
It’s a delicious recipe option for vegetarians, and easy enough for a casual weeknight dinner. If you are a meat-eater, this dish could benefit from some bacon!
You want to cook both the pasta and squash until only al-dente, which gives the dish a glowing fall presentation with its cubes of golden butternut squash.
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced (4 cloves if using locally grown)
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 small butternut squash, approx. 2 lbs, peeled, seeded and cut into ½ cubes
1 tbsp finely chopped thyme or sage
Salt and freshly ground pepper
16 oz. short pasta or shells
¾ cup freshly grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic, onion and crushed red pepper and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the squash and thyme or sage, season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until the squash is tender about 5 minutes. Don’t overcook as you want the squash to hold it’s shape, so cook it until al-dente.
Meanwhile, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al-dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water. Add the pasta to the squash mixture in the skillet, and stir in ½ cup of the pasta water and toss gently to combine. Add the ¾ cup of grated cheese, season with salt and pepper to taste and stir gently to combine. Add a bit more pasta water if necessary. Serve the pasta immediately, passing more cheese at the table.
You could use another brand of pasta for this dish, but I highly recommend picking up a bag of Mancini Italian Pasta! The simplicity of the dish allows this high quality pasta to really stand out. Find out more about what sets this pasta apart, and why we carry it at our market in Abbotsford, BC!