A few weeks ago, I saw a tweet from the local Whole Foods about a recipe contest with roasted garlic. Contest? Ooh, let me check this out...yep, your "best recipe with roasted garlic." At once, the gears in my head started grinding.
Y'see, I've been eating a lot of garlic since starting my "anti-inflammation diet" and I think it's been a big help (moreso than the green tea). So I had garlic on hand to spare. But what to do with it that's really good and unique? I wanted something that would stand out in the crowd of recipes, but nothing too complicated. I looked around the kitchen, spotted a butternut squash and I was on my way. But not a soup. Oh no, butternut squash soup? So done. A pasta sauce! And so this was born.
I posted the recipe and kept my fingers crossed. There was a lot of good competition. I thought for sure I'd be bumped out in favor of some of the more exotic and omnivorous entrants. But then I found out that I'd made it to the final two! That this lovely person who tests recipes had made my cream sauce and loved it! What a thrill! Here are the notes:
Lesley Eats' simple, healthy pasta sauce is so silky and rich you won't even notice, let alone miss, the butter found in creamy sauce rivals. The roasted garlic and butternut squash make for a happy pair and cooking the two together melds the flavors beautifully. The final flourish of grated Parmesan sets this dish apart -- don't skimp on it! Seconds were requested around the table. Note: a 2 1/2 pound butternut squash will provide more than enough for a pound of pasta, so freeze the rest of the sauce for another quick meal.
So making it to the finals was pretty awesome. But then I needed to win. There was a $100 gift card to Whole Foods at stake. So I appealed to all my friends on Twitter and Facebook and I'm happy to report that with all your help, I won! I could not have done it without you all.
Pasta with Roasted Garlic and Butternut Squash Cream Sauce
1 medium butternut squash
2 bulbs garlic
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup milk (unflavored soy milk or coconut milk can be substituted)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon herbs de provence
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 pinch cayenne
pepper to taste
1 pound dried penne pasta (this is also good over ravioli or tortellini)
1/4 cup finely grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
Pre-heat oven to 400F.
Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Place cut side down in about a 1/2 inch of water in a large dish, poke holes in the skin with a fork and roast for 45 minutes (or until soft and the skin is browned).
Meanwhile, peel the garlic bulbs until just one thin layer of skin remains (but bulbs stay intact) and cut a small segment off the top of each bulb. Drizzle half the olive oil over each bulb and wrap in aluminum foil. Place in the oven with the squash when there's 30 minutes left to cook.
When the squash and garlic have finished cooking, remove from the oven and set aside to cool (approximately 10-15 minutes).
Peel the skin off the squash and place in a large bowl. Remove the individual cloves of garlic from each bulb and add to the squash. Add the remaining ingredients and puree (with an immersion blender, mixer, or food processor). Add pepper (and more of the listed seasonings, if necessary) to taste.
Cook pasta according to directions (al dente) and drain. Spread the sauce over the pasta and top with grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese.