Yum. I just had two bowls of this, and I’m almost hungry again as I look at that picture. It’s just so good.
I’ve had the version on How Sweet It Is bookmarked for almost a month, and it felt like I was seeing variations everywhere. It was really about time I tried the butternut/pasta/cheese awesomeness for myself. Especially because I bought a mama of a butternut squash a few days ago.
I think of this dish as a grown-up version of mac & cheese. Roasting the butternut brings out the flavor beautifully, and isn’t it nice using produce when it’s in season?
How Sweet used mascarpone cheese, which I’ve never even seen, let alone tried. (My sister in school in NY told me recently that she saw a kosher brand there, so hopefully the New Yorkers among you won’t have trouble finding it.) After some very careful research (um, Googling), I decided I’d sub it out for sour cream. I considered combining heavy whipping cream with cream cheese, but that seemed too much trouble for just ¼ cup.
If you go with sour cream, too, I’d suggest mixing another ¼ cup into the penne before adding the squash mixture. It really boosts the creaminess.
Also: I used a full bag of penne although the original recipe called for just half a bag. I think the squash/pasta proportions would be better with 3/4 of a bag of pasta, which is what I list in the recipe below. Your call.
That I, the squash fan that I am, loved this recipe was no great surprise. But my husband loved it, too. And he doesn’t even like squash…or so he thinks.
Adapted from How Sweet It Is
- 1 medium-large butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- olive oil, to brush over cubed squash
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- a pinch or two of nutmeg
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp flour
- ½ cup sour cream, divided in half
- 2/3 cup milk
- 3/4 bag penne
- ½ cup grated mozzarella cheese
- dried thyme
1. Preheat oven to 400 F/200 C. Peel squash and chop into cubes, then spread in a single layer on a covered baking sheet. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Roast 20 minutes, flip over, then roast for 20 minutes more. Remove from the oven and transfer to a bowl. Mash with a potato masher to achieve a smooth consistency. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 F/180 C.
2. Cook pasta 2 minutes less than usual (for me, this meant 6 minutes). It’s going to bake in the oven, too, and you don’t want it to get overcooked.
3. While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic until they just begin to brown.
4. Lower heat to a simmer and immediately add flour. Stir for 1-2 minutes. Add milk, ¼ cup sour cream, and mashed squash, mixing until combined. It will be fairly thick, so feel free to add a little more milk if you want to thin it out. (I added another 2-3 Tbsp milk because I didn’t want to thin it significantly.)
5. Taste the “sauce” and add salt or other spices as needed.
6. When pasta is done, drain and run under cold water for a minute to stop the cooking process. Transfer to a large bowl and mix in the remaining ¼ cup of sour cream. This will help make the dish creamy.
7. Add squash “sauce” to the penne and mix well so that all of the pasta is nicely coated. Top with mozzarella and a light sprinkle of thyme. Bake for 25 minutes and serve hot.
(Note: If you reheat leftovers, add a bit of milk and stir well to keep it smooth and creamy.)