I've always loved the rich and savory combination of pasta, squash and sage. A new, favorite restaurant features a special dish on their fall and winter menu that uses potato gnocchi rather than plain pasta with squash and sage. When I found this Cooks Illustrated recipe for the main ingredients, I decided to try it using some store-bought gnocchi.
It was fantastic!
The method of first sautéing the bacon with the sage and then using the bacon drippings to carmelize the squash was a wonderful idea.
Pasta with Butternut Squash and Sage
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated
Serves 4 to 6.
Adapted from a recipe published January 1, 2009 from Cook's Illustrated.
4 slices bacon , halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
8 large fresh sage leaves , plus 1 tablespoon minced (I used frozen leaves from my garden)
1 medium medium butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
6 scallions , sliced thin (about 1 cup)
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon sugar
Table salt and ground black pepper
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 pound prepared potato gnocchi
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1. Cook bacon in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. Add whole sage leaves and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer into small bowl, reserving bacon fat and bacon-sage mixture separately.
2. Return skillet to high heat, add 2 tablespoons reserved bacon fat (adding olive oil if necessary) and heat until shimmering. Add squash in even layer and cook, without stirring, until beginning to caramelize, 4 to 5 minutes. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until spotty brown, 3 to 4 minutes longer. Add butter and allow to melt, about 30 seconds. Add scallions, nutmeg, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 3/4 teaspoon pepper, and minced sage; cook, stirring occasionally, until scallions are softened, about 3 minutes. Add broth and bring to simmer; continue to cook until squash is tender, 1 to 3 minutes longer.
3. Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to boil in a large stock pot over high heat. Add store-bought potato gnocchi (I used Alessi brande). Cook for 3-4 minutes, until gnocchi rises to the surface. Drain in a colander.
4. Add squash mixture to pasta; stir in 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese,and reserved bacon-sage mixture, adjusting consistency with reserved pasta liquid. Serve, passing almonds and Parmesan separately.