Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Butternut Squash, Italian Sausage, and Spinach Pasta

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Secret:  The butternut squash is the sauce.  No, like it actually is the sauce.  Like, there's no tomato sauce, and instead it's butternut squash.  Does that mean it's healthier?  I have no clue.  But tasty?  Oh my gourd, yes!

But, first things first (and I know I'm a little late)...WAY TO GO TEAM CANADA!

This is what Canadians live for!
We had 26 people crammed into our tiny living room to watch Canada win gold over Sweden in Men's Hockey in the Sochi Olympics.  And with a 4am game start time, why wake up early when you can stay up partying all night long?  We didn't crawl into bed until close to 8am, but it was worth it.  Well, except for The Hubby who was sawing logs by the end of the second period after doing a well-executed 'classic slip-out*' exit from the party.  He was discovered minutes later, in our bed, with drool already on the pillow...it was too late to drag him back to the party.

*During a classic slip-out, you must tell no one that you are leaving, and 'slip out' of the room without saying goodbye, for fear of being told by anyone in the room that you are actually, in fact, not allowed to leave because leaving would be super lame.

So, Pinterest is awesome and something I could become easily obsessed with.  Just kidding, I already am obsessed with it.  You can follow me here if you like.  Actually, I have pinned something like 1500+ recipes (with probably a lot of duplicates, because with 1500 recipes who could remember which ones you've laid eyes on before), and have only made a few things.  A couple of weeks ago I challenged myself to make something, anything, from one of my Pinterest boards, and that's when I stumbled upon the Pasta with Butternut Sauce, Spicy Sausage, and Baby Spinach from the Skinny Taste website.  It looked like exactly what I was going to need in my life that night, so I went to my favourite store (COSTCO!!), and picked up some butternut squash, 18 other things that I didn't plan on buying (48 granola bars!  16 cans of soup!  6 boxes of crackers!), and Italian sausage.  I changed up the recipe a little bit, with one of the main differences being that I roasted the squash instead of boiling it in water, which I felt would help to retain more flavour.

Well, The Hubby and I loved it, and as a result butternut squash will now become a base for many future pasta sauces in our house.  I always know that The Hubby thinks it is a good dinner when he blatantly tells me, "this is a good dinner," and then eagerly gets out the Tupperware to pack some up for his lunch at work the next day.  That happened with this pasta dish.

Basically any pasta dish with Italian Sausage in it calls to me though.  Speaking of which, I was just reminded of the Butternut Squash, Italian Sausage, and Sage Lasagne that I made last year at this time...the pictures don't do it much justice but, OMG, it was awesome.

One Year Ago:  Butternut Squash and Italian Sausage Lasagne
Two Years Ago:  Broccoli and Aged Cheddar Soup

For a printer-friendly version of any recipe, simply click 'Print' below the title of any blog post. Voila - a clean recipe without my ramblings or any pictures!

Butternut Squash, Italian Sausage, and Spinach Pasta

Serves: 5 - 6

  • 2 pounds (907 grams) butternut squash, cut into 1-inch cubes (Hint:  buy the pre-cubed kind from Costco!)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds (680 grams) Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped sage leaves (plus a little extra for garnish)
  • 12 ounces (340 grams) bite-sized pasta, such as penne
  • 4 ounces (113 grams) fresh baby spinach
  • Freshly shaved parmesan cheese, for topping
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  Put butternut squash into a medium sized bowl, drizzle with olive oil, and top with freshly ground pepper and salt, to taste.  Toss the butternut squash with your hands until it is well coated.  Pour the butternut squash onto the baking sheet and arrange into a single layer.  Place the butternut squash into the oven and roast for 30 minutes or until fork tender.

While the butternut squash is roasting, place the Italian sausage and onion together into a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat.  Cook, breaking the Italian sausage up into smaller pieces, until the onion is soft and the sausage is no longer pink, about ten minutes.  Add garlic, dried thyme, and sage, and cook for another couple of minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add your pasta, and cook according to package directions.  When cooked to al dante, drain the pasta in a colander and leave sitting for a few moments while you prepare the sauce.

When the butternut squash is done, transfer to the empty pot that the pasta was cooking in before.  Add 1 1/2 cups warm water.  Using a hand blender (immersion blender), puree the butternut squash and water mixture until smooth and no lumps remain.  Alternately, puree the squash and water in a blender, then return to the pot.  Add the spinach to the butternut squash puree and stir until the spinach begins to wilt.  Add the Italian sausage mixture and the pasta to the pot, and stir well to combine.  Serve immediately.  Enjoy!

Recipe Inspired By:  Skinny Taste - Pasta with Butternut Sauce, Spicy Sausage and Baby Spinach

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