Yep, that’s right. This creamy, divine butternut squash and penne pasta is made start to finish in one skillet. Which makes me want to weep because I love skillet meals just so, so much. Avoiding having to clean that extra pasta boiling pot is reason for some serious heel clicks (a dangerous feat for one as unathletic and uncoordinated as I). And just so you know how I really feel about this recipe, I had to make a concerted effort not to type that entire second sentence in all CAPS just to emphasize how seriously serious (in a good way) this is.
I’ve had a love affair with the butternut squash and pasta combo for forever. Add in lean chicken sausage, spinach and a smattering of other ingredients and this is quite possibly the only thing I want to eat all weekend.
The inspiration came from several other one-skillet pasta meals that I love, and the fact that the butternut squash lends a beautiful creaminess to the made-by-itself-sauce without pouring in quarts of heavy cream (sidenote: I have nothing against heavy cream, trust me, I’m just trying to avoid it for a day or two) is another reason to leap for joy.
This is all sorts of comfort wrapped up in one skillet. And did I mention? You’ll only have one little skillet to wash up. That’s pretty sweet considering you are getting one of the most fab meals of January out of the deal.
Long live butternut squash. In pasta. With sausage. And spinach. And cheese.
P.S. Today is my youngest son’s birthday. He turns five and spent weeks agonizing over whether to have an eyeball cake or creme brulee for his birthday “cake.” Very serious decision when you are his age. I posted about it on FB. You responded. Oh yes, you did. I’ll be posting on FB a bit later today with his birthday creation. Happy birthday to my most sweetest and gentlest of little boys!
This isn't an overly saucy dish. It really isn't meant to be although it is definitely not dry, in my opinion. It's like a lightly creamy pasta dish with squash and other delicious flavors. If you'd like a little more sauce, add in a bit more liquid as the butternut squash cooks in step #2. As the squash cooks down, it will become kind of creamy and thicken the broth that was added in (I'm not talking adding in cups, but another 1/2 cup or so would be good for a little extra). That's where letting the pasta rest for 5-10 minutes before serving will help.
- 1 large shallot (or 1/4 cup minced yellow or white onion)
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed
- 1 pound chicken sausage (if links, remove the casing)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 5 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 12 ounces penne pasta
- 3 cups peeled and diced butternut squash
- 3 cups coarsely chopped fresh baby spinach
- 2 large sage leaves, torn into small pieces, or 1/4 teaspoon dried, more or less to taste
- 1 cup (about 4 ounces) shredded or cubed fontina or mozzarella cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Freshly grated Parmesan for serving, if desired
- In a large 12-inch nonstick skillet, combine the shallot, garlic, sausage, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, breaking up the meat into small pieces, and cooking until the sausage is cooked through, 5-7 minutes. Scrape the mixture to a plate and return the skillet back to the heat.
- Add the chicken broth and pasta and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking and the pasta clumping together. Stir in the squash and simmer 5-7 minutes longer until the squash and pasta are both tender. As the squash breaks down, it will help bring a creaminess to the sauce and pasta so add more liquid, if necessary, while cooking if the mixture seems dry.
- Stir in the spinach and sage and cook for 1-2 minutes until the spinach is wilted. Add the sausage/shallot mixture back to the skillet and stir in the fontina or mozzarella cheese and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Off the heat, cover the skillet with a lid or foil and let the pasta sit for 5-10 minutes. Give it a good stir and serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.
Recipe Source: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe