Pappardelle with Butternut Squash and Blue Cheese

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This is not a light pasta dish, it is quite a rich feed, almost a comfort food. I have adapted the recipe from Nigella’s Kitchen. I added bacon because I think it improves everything, and really does here. I then made the dish directly as is in the book. My chief taster declared that it was too dry for his liking, he likes his food drowning in sauce! So I played around with it, added crème fraiche to make a sauce and unfortunately have to agree that he was right. I hate when that happens.

You might not be a fan of blue cheese, but I use a mild sweet gorgonzola or cambozola in this and it is really a complementary flavour rather than the main star of the dish. You could substitute with ricotta for a lighter taste. The original recipe calls for dry marsala wine but I could not get my hands on that so used a dry sherry instead. That was what was recommended to me, I don’t normally have sherry in the house!  Leave out the bacon if you want to make the dish meat free. I like roasting some of the squash as it caramalises and becomes nice and sweet but you can skip this step and just cook it all in the pan. You could also make it with a different pasta but make sure it is a robust shape.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 large butternut squash peeled and cut into 2cm cubes, approx. 700g when cubed
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 125g smoked streaky bacon or pancetta sliced
  • 1 medium-large onion
  • 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp sherry or marsala wine
  • 125ml water
  • 150ml light crème fraiche
  • 6 fresh sage leaves
  • 130g mild soft blue cheese
  • 100g pine nuts
  • Pasta of choice

Method:

  • Preheat your oven to 190C/170C fan/gas mark 4. Put 150g of the squash on to a baking tray, lightly pour over some olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for approx. 20mins or until the squash is cooked through.
  • In a heavy based saucepan heat a tbsp of the olive oil and add the bacon. Cook until the bacon is starting to crisp and remove from the pan. Drain on kitchen paper.
  • Add the onions to the pan that you cooked the bacon in. Add a drop more oil if needed. When the onion starts to soften and turn golden add the paprika.
  • Add in the remaining cubes of butternut squash and the butter and combine everything together in the pan.
  • Add the sherry or marsala and the water. Let the pan come to a bubble, put the lid on, turn the heat down to a simmer for 20 mins or until the squash is tender.
  • Cook your pasta according to the instructions while the squash is cooking.
  • Toast your pine nuts in a dry pan until golden and set to one side.
  • Check that the squash is cooked through. If not remove the lid and cook for a few more minutes.
  • I like to blend the squash into a rough puree. You can do this with a stick blender directly in the pan.
  • Add the crème fraiche and 90g of the blue cheese. Mix this is well together until the cheese is more or less melted in to the sauce.
  • Add the roasted squash to the pan but don’t blend the chunks.
  • Taste the sauce and season with salt and black pepper as needed. Remember if you are using the bacon that you don’t want to put in too much salt.
  • Finely chop the sage leaves and add to the sauce.
  • Drain the pasta, keeping some of the cooking water back to help it combine with the sauce. Add the pasta to the sauce and the water and stir until the pasta is well coated with the sauce.
  • Serve onto plates. Top with the remainder of the blue cheese crumbled over, then the bacon and the pine nuts.

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