Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta With Sage and Walnuts
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2 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves
5 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
3/4 packed cup fresh sage leaves
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 lemon, zested (about 1 tablespoon)
1 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock, plus more as needed
1 pound short pasta, such as gemelli, casarecce or penne
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the squash and garlic on a sheet pan. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Toss well and roast until the squash is very tender, 30 to 35 minutes, tossing twice throughout. While the squash roasts, bring a large pot of water to boil.
Meanwhile, in a large (12-inch) skillet, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium. When the oil is hot, add the sage and cook, tossing often, until the leaves begin to crisp, about 1 minute. Add the walnuts and a generous sprinkle of salt and cook, tossing often, until the sage leaves are lightly browned and crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sage and nuts to a paper towel-lined plate and wipe out the skillet. Let the mixture drain for 1 minute, then add it to a small bowl with the lemon zest; toss lightly and set aside.
Working in batches if necessary, transfer the roasted squash and garlic to a blender or food processor, along with 1 cup stock, and blend until smooth and thick. The consistency should be somewhere between a purée and a thick soup. Add more stock as needed, if it seems too thick.
Transfer the puréed squash to the reserved skillet and keep warm over very low heat. Meanwhile, add the pasta to the boiling water, along with 1 tablespoon salt, and cook until al dente. Just before draining, ladle 1/2 cup pasta water into a measuring cup and set aside.
Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce. Toss to coat the pasta evenly, then, off the heat, add the 1/2 cup Parmesan and toss until the cheese is incorporated. Add a few tablespoons of the reserved pasta water if the sauce seems too thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Divide the pasta among shallow bowls and sprinkle the sage, walnut and lemon zest mixture on top, and serve with extra Parmesan on the side.
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