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Off the Shelf: Pasta with Pumpkin and Sage Brown Butter

The "Pasta" chapter in Off the Shelf features many fresh new renditions of old classics. This flavor combination -- sage, brown butter, and pumpkin -- is always delicious, and Hay's recipe is easy to follow and tastes fantastic.

I've made a small change to the proportions, just as a suggestion: the original recipe calls for 2 lbs of pumpkin. That was quite a lot, so if you don't want the pasta to be overpowered, reduce the amount slightly. I've also suggested that you can use butternut or acorn squash instead of pumpkin. The flavor profile of all three is very similar, and they'd all work well in this recipe. To make preparation very simple, try using prepackaged butternut squash that's already peeled and cut into chunks. Trader Joe's markets sell squash in plastic bags, and other well-stocked markets often have this product as well. You'll still need to cut the chunks into smaller dice, but not having to peel the squash is a real time saver.

For the best flavor, be sure to cook the butter until it is golden and the milk solids are little brown specks floating in the fat. This treatment of butter, known as beurre noisette, has a nutty, rich flavor. Be careful, however, since the butter can burn very quickly.

Try to find small sage leaves; they will shrink while cooking in the butter, but very large leaves (say, 2 or more inches long) will be too overpowering when you're trying to eat the dish. If you can only find large leaves, cut them in half crosswise before adding them to the butter.

Try this dish with crusty bread and a simple salad of mixed baby greens tossed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

1 1/2 to 2 lbs pumpkin, butternut, or acorn squash, peeled and diced
Olive oil
14 oz. pappardelle or fettuccine
2 1/2 oz. (5 Tbsp) butter
3 Tbsp whole sage leaves
1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the pumpkin or squash in a baking dish and drizzle with about 2 Tbsp olive oil. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden and soft.

When pumpkin is nearly ready, cook the pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain. While pasta is cooking, place the butter and sage in a sauté pan over low to medium heat and allow the butter to cook until it is a golden brown. Watch carefully, as it will change from golden to burned very quickly.

To serve, place the pasta in serving plates and top with the pumpkin and parmesan. Spoon the brown butter and sage leaves over the top and season with pepper and salt.



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