In my endless cold-weather quest to find things to do with butternut squash, I tried a new recipe from the January/February 2009 Cook's Illustrated. It's called "Pasta with Butternut Squash and Sage." My fellow diner thought this title was lacking because it does not mention the ever-important ingredient called BACON. So be forewarned/comforted that this has bacon in it, too. Here's my mise en place:
The main notes in this recipe are butternut squash, nutmeg, sage and bacon. Some lemon juice and toasted almonds also offer subtle dimension to the dish. For the pasta, I chose penne as the recipe suggests--but I made mine whole wheat because I like my whole grains.
For the first part of the recipe, I made the recommended "crispy bits" of bacon lardons with sage leaves thrown in.
I think it would be safe to add twice as much sage to this recipe. I didn't find sage flavor to be a big standout in the finished dish. Perhaps it would help to bruise the sage leaves a bit first, though this is usually the sort of thing Cook's Illustrated makes a point to mention. Heck, I might want to double the bacon, too.
Another unique CI idea was caramelizing the squash in the bacon grease. Perhaps I broke the recipe's rule by using a Dutch oven instead of a 12-inch skillet, but my squash didn't really caramelize or even brown. Maybe temperature was a problem. I have a new gas stove that is always trying to secretly burn things, so I sometimes cook things too low.
In the end, this made a decent meal, though if I make it again I'll use half the pasta because the squash, sage and BACON seemed to get a little lost in all the penne. At the end I was kind of tempted to throw hot pepper flakes on everything, but I restrained myself. This has nice flavors on the subtle side. Since I usually get overpowered by the sweetness of butternut squash, the relative delicacy here was just fine.
I'm submitting this to Bookmarked Recipes, a blog event where anyone from anywhere can blog about a recipe they had bookmarked from a cook book, food magazine, food blog, food website, from TV etc, make it and submit it to a weekly roundup. This edition hosted by Ivy at Kopiaste.org.