1large shallot, or 1/4 cup minced yellow or white onion
2clovesgarlic, finely minced or pressed
1poundchicken sausage, (if links, remove the casing)
5 ½cupslow-sodium chicken broth
3cupspeeled and diced butternut squash
3cupscoarsely chopped fresh baby spinach
2largesage leaves, torn into small pieces, or 1/4 teaspoon dried, more or less to taste
1cupshredded 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.
Sauce: 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. Broth: 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.