Ok guys – let’s chat for a minute about the horrors of nature. HORRORS. Yes, there is also a lot of beauty and wonder, but have you watched a Planet Earth lately!? Etienne has been watching these nature documentaries the past few evenings, and I have to look away for 60% of it. Nature is cruel. It’s like a horror movie for me. Did you know that in Barbados thousands of baby turtles get trapped every year in the streets? It literally haunted me…..#savetheturtles.
In less distressing news, this butternut squash pasta is easily the most comforting dish I’ve had in a while. Soft, warm, noodles smothered in a thick, velvety, cheesy sauce with a hint of rich squash flavour and topped with salty, crispy prosciutto. YUM!
I’ve been a fan of butternut squash mac n’ cheese for a long time now, but my love for it went to a whole other level when I combined this deliciousness with my favourite cured ham. Plus – it’s easy and nutritious! Nothing puts a smile on my face like feeding my unsuspecting children a whopping dose of vegetables.
The whole recipe only takes about 30 minutes! I like to prep ahead of time by peeling and slicing the butternut squash in advance; saving the seeds is optional, but highly recommended! If you like roasted pumpkin seeds at Halloween time – guess what? Roasted butternut squash seeds taste pretty much identical, just smaller! Etienne thinks they taste like wood chips so – more for me!
The squash will take about 20 minutes to cook in simmering stock, which is the perfect amount of time to cook up some rigatoni and bake the prosciutto in the oven. I like to use rigatoni for this recipe because I love how the large round noodles capture so much of the thick, creamy, sauce. Feel free to use another type of noodle but be sure to use about 4 cups of pasta to ensure you have the right ratio of sauce to starch.
The prosciutto – you’ve GOT to try crisping it up in the oven. It’s life changing! Thin, light, crispy, and salty – it’s like your dream piece of bacon that comes together with no mess, no fuss and in only 8 minutes. Word of advice – don’t prepare it TOO far in advance or you’ll end up eating the entire pan!
Do you own an immersion blender? It makes blending up soups and sauces SO easy – this is the one I own. I love it! If you don’t have one, a regular blender will do just fine! It will just make for one more thing to clean.
Noodles, sauce, prosciutto, done. It’s comfort and fall all in one cheesy saucepan. The dish also makes for some amazing leftovers!! Not that you’re likely to have any 😉
Butternut Squash Pasta with Crispy Prosciutto
Yield 4-6 servings
A thick, cheesy, velvety sauce with a hint of rich squash smothers a bed of pasta topped with crispy prosciutto. A cozy dish, perfect for fall!
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 yellow onion, minced
- 3 1/2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 3/4 cup low sodium vegetable broth (or chicken)
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 2 cups dry rigatoni (or other pasta)
- 100 g prosciutto
- 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
- optional: roasted butternut squash seeds
- Peel and cube a butternut squash, reserving the seeds and measuring out approximately 3 1/2 cups.
- In a large saucepan, melt the butter and add the garlic and onion, sautéing until the onion is soft and translucent, approximately 5 minutes. Add the cubed squash and fry for 4-5 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Simmer the squash for 15-20 minutes, covered, or until the squash can be easily pierced with a fork.
- While the squash is simmering, begin boiling the water for the pasta. Cook the pasta for 8-10 minutes or until al dente. Rinse and drain.
- Preheat the oven to 400 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the prosciutto in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake the prosciutto for 8-10 minutes, or until crisp. Set aside. This is also when I typically roast the squash seeds, for about 10 minutes, while the oven is still hot.
- Using an immersion blender or a regular blender in small batches, blend the squash and broth mixture until most large chunks are pureed. Return the sauce to the sauce pan over low heat, and slowly stir in the milk, followed by the cheese. Add the drained pasta and toss to combine. Crumble the baked prosciutto over the top of the dish and serve, topping with roasted butternut squash seeds if desired.
Leftovers can be kept in an airtight container, sealed, in the fridge for 3-4 days.