There’s nothing wrong with a little richness every now and then. Butternut squash, blended into a decadent “cream” sauce with white wine and sage, makes a decadent-tasting dinner without one drop of dairy. Instead of empty calories, the creaminess from winter squash brings loads of nutrients and natural sweetness to this perfect fall dinner.
The beauty of butternut squash is that it boasts a delectable texture and sweetness that doesn’t punish you with guilt; very few calories come with outrageous flavor and a bundle of nutrients. In the background, a little miso goes a long way to lend a savory “oomph” and healthful probiotics. So don’t be shy about overindulging—this is a healthy kind of “rich.”
Roasted Butternut-Sage Pasta
1 medium butternut squash, at least 2 pounds
1/2 pound brown rice penne pasta, or pasta of your choice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons mellow white miso
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For topping (optional):
Extra roasted butternut squash
Toasted pumpkin seeds
- Roast the butternut squash: Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop the seeds out with a spoon, and place both halves of squash on a parchment-lined baking sheet with the cut sides down. Bake for 45 minutes until the squash is tender when pierced with a knife. When the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and set aside 1 1/2 cups for the pasta sauce. Reserve the rest for topping or other dishes.
- Bring a pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. Cook the pasta according to package directions, being sure to leave the noodles with a little firmness.
- Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sauté for about 5 to 8 minutes until the onions start to caramelize. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, stirring to prevent burning. Add the sage and wine, and turn up the heat to a boil for 1 minute, to slightly reduce the wine. Remove from heat to cool.
- Drain the cashews and place in a blender with the water or vegetable broth, 1 1/2 cups of the roasted squash, the miso, nutritional yeast (if using), lemon juice, remaining teaspoon of salt, and pepper. Pour in the onion-wine mixture. Blend on high until completely smooth, up to two minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the blender with a spatula. Adjust seasoning to taste.
- Serve sauce warm, poured over individual servings of pasta. Top with chunks of extra baked squash and toasted pumpkin seeds.
- Squash-Sage Pasta. Switch out the butternut squash for other varieties of winter squash: kabocha, delicata, acorn, or pumpkin.
- Roasted Squash Sauce. Pour this sauce over any grain, bean, or steamed vegetable for a satisfying meal.
- Broccoli or Kale Roasted Butternut-Sage Pasta. Add steamed broccoli or kale for a pop of color and nutrition.
Hard winter squash can be a pain to peel. Instead of fighting with it, you can simply cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and bake each half cut side down until soft. Then it’s possible to scoop the squash easily from its skin.
For squashes like butternut and delicata, it’s not necessary to peel their edible skins. If roasting them or making a soup, simply cut them up and cook (minus the seeds, of course). With the skin intact, there is more nutrition in it for you!
Butternut squash is among the vegetables containing the highest levels of carotenoids. Carotenoids are powerful antioxidants with the potential to destroy precancerous cells and boost immune response. Research has shown that those who eat a high concentration of one particular carotenoid, beta-carotene, are significantly less likely to develop lung cancer.
Butternut squash is also exceptionally high in complex carbohydrates that don’t spike your blood sugar, making them medicinal for diabetics and those struggling with digestive problems.
Nutritional yeast is a natural source of vitamin B12 with a complete protein profile. Its cheesy flavor makes for a great vegan substitute for cheese. Those sensitive to yeast can tolerate this deactivated kind.
For more health information check out the Yoffie Life Food Encyclopedia page on butternut squash.
When buying a squash, choose one that is heavy and has a firm rind with no cracks or holes. If you have a run-in with a pile of good winter squashes, stock up! They keep for up to six months in a cool, dry place.