When I saw this recipe in Cooking Light last month, I was really excited to try it. We got a kabocha squash in our CSA, so it seemed like the perfect time. If you can't find a kabocha squash, you can definitely just substitute in a different winter squash - the original recipe calls for butternut, and I bet acorn would be tasty as well. Definitely do yourself (and your hands) a favor and simply cut the squash in half and then roast - it takes a bit longer in the oven than peeled chunks would, but to me it's totally worth it to cut down on the prep time. Once the squash is roasted, it's scooped out of its skin and added to a healthy white sauce (milk, eggs, and onions). The squash is creamy enough to create a delicious sauce without the use of half-and-half or cream. The sauce is good, but pretty sweet, meaning that the garnishes are not optional. Nutty pecans and salty blue cheese are essential for balancing out the sweet squash, making for the perfect bowl of comforting pasta! If you just can't stand blue cheese, I bet goat cheese or lots of shaved Parmesan would be great as well.
Kabocha Squash Pasta with Blue Cheese and Pecans (adapted from Cooking Light)
1 medium kabocha squash
Salt and pepper
12 ounces dried pasta (I used campanelle)
1 cup chopped onion (about 1/2 medium onion)
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 cup skim milk, divided
1 tsp all-purpose flour
2 large egg yolks
Crumbled blue cheese, to garnish
Toasted pecans, coarsely chopped, to garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a large baking sheet with foil.
2. Cut the squash in half and scoop the seeds out. Lightly coat the foil with oil, and then rub the cut sides of the squash with more oil. Place on the baking sheet, cut sides up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until tender, about 30 minutes.
3. Let the squash cool until cool enough to handle. Scoop the flesh from the skin, and break into bite-sized chunks.
4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and then salt it. When it boils, add the pasta and cook according to package directions.
5. While the water is coming to a boil, make the sauce. Heat a bit of oil in a non-stick pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are very soft but not browned.
6. Pour 1/2 cup of the milk into a small bowl, and whisk in the flour and egg yolks. Set aside.
7. Pour the remaining 1/2 cup milk into the skillet with the onions and whisk to combine using a silicone spatula (so that you don't scrape the non-stick coating). When the milk starts to bubble, slowly whisk in the milk-egg-flour mixture, and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens slightly, 4-5 minutes. Fold in the squash using a rubber spatula.
8. Drain the pasta, and gently fold in the sauce. Gently heat over low heat, stirring, for about 1 minute.
9. Transfer to serving bowls, and then sprinkle with blue cheese and pecans.