Guys, I think I’ve found my new favourite sauce in lifeeeeee. Better than alfredo sauce, better than bolognese sauce, better than vodka sauce…and dare I say it, even better than mac and cheese. Three words: Butternut. Squash. Sauce.
Winter has finally decided to rear its (somewhat) ugly head here in Toronto – we just got our third snowfall of the year last night, with a whopping 1/2 centimentre of the white stuff. Let’s just say I am NOT complaining. But, I am trying to enjoy the season of sweater weather and cozy nights on the couch while I still can, and this Winter Orecchiette & Butternut Squash Sauce has made more than one appearance on my dinner menu in the past month.
Turkey bacon is one of my go-tos when I’m looking for something smokey to add to a dish, and it’s far lower in calories than the regular pork kind. However, if you’re not a fan of nitrates or processed meats, then you can always opt for a lighter chicken breast in this meal, or you can add in some white kidney beans or chickpeas for some extra protein. Honestly, this Winter Orecchiette & Butternut Squash Sauce is also fantastic as a vegetarian main, so maybe an idea to keep in mind for Meatless Monday!
You can swap out any of the vegetables that I’ve used here, but the main thing for me was keeping seasonal produce in rotation. I’m a huge fan of mushrooms, and wanted to use brussels sprouts before the season is over. Believe it or not, I’d never tried purple kale before this and was looking for an excuse to buy it. My verdict? Tastes just like ordinary curly kale, but a bit more bitter. The perfect balance to offset the sweet elements of the butternut squash sauce!
But getting back to the butternut squash sauce component of this Winter Orecchiette. It’s a bit of a hybrid between alfredo sauce and mac & cheese, with this creamy, rich and sweet flavour. You’ll have a bit of sauce likely left over after you make this recipe, so I recommend freezing it. I’ve used the sauce later for stuffed mushrooms, tacos, more pasta…anything you can think of really! It’s super versatile and I recommend making as big a batch as you possibly can because trust me, you’ll become hooked real fast!
- 1 cup cooked orecchiette
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 slices turkey bacon
- 5 button mushrooms, sliced
- 10 brussels sprouts, sliced in half
- ½ cup red onion, sliced
- ½ cup purple kale, chopped
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ small onion, chopped
- 1 medium-sized butternut squash
- ¾ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- ¼ cup Swiss cheese, grated
- 2 tbsp whipping cream or 2% milk
- In a large pot, heat butter over med-high heat. Add garlic and onion and saute for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add butternut squash, salt and pepper then cook for another 5 minutes, stirring often.
- Add vegetable stock and let simmer for about 15 minutes until squash is fork tender. Remove from heat, stir in cheese and cream, and set aside to let cool.
- Cook orecchiette pasta according to package directions.
- Meanwhile, in a large pan with olive oil over medium heat, fry turkey bacon until cooked to desired doneness. Remove from pan, then add mushrooms, brussels sprouts and red onion. Cook for about 5-7 minutes until most of the liquid from mushrooms is evaporated. Add purple kale and saute for another minute, then remove from heat.
- Crumble turkey bacon and add to veggie mixture. It is around this time that the pasta should be finished cooking.
- Once butternut squash mixture has cooled, puree in a blender until creamy. Toss with orecchiette, then plate in two large pasta bowls. Spoon vegetable mixture overtop, and garnish with parmesan cheese if desired. Enjoy!