Hearty Noodles with Butternut Squash


A monthly event dedicated to food photography.

CLICK is theme-based. Each month, entries will be invited based on a culinary ingredient or concept. This month’s theme is noodles. I tried my best to come up with something original yet photogenic as well. While I think the pasta came out much better than expected, my photos came out just average. The dish was good enough to talk bout so here’s the story.

Squash Pasta

A few weeks ago at the local farmer’s market I picked up a butternut squash, just because. I really had no idea what I was going to do with it, but I knew it would keep for at least a month while I decided its fate. While I was thinking about what I could do for this month’s CLICK I came up with the idea to make a twist on butternut squash ravioli.

The raviolis are usually filled with cooked squash puree that is mixed with a light cheese like ricotta and some select spices. They’re quickly cooked in some salted boiling water and then served with a light sage butter sauce. This is usually a good dish but I didn’t want to go through all the troubles of making the raviolis and a filling to go along with them. I decided to deconstruct the dish into the parts I liked best and make a few changes. First I started off with some freshly made, extra thick noodles.

Squash Pasta

Fresh pasta is something that everyone should know how to make. There’s only a few ingredients to knead together, a little bit of rolling (by hand or by machine), and then you cut the pasta into any shape you want. I skipped using the pasta maker for these noodles and just rolled them out on the counter top with a rolling pin. I left these noodles quite thick and cut them in wide strips to keep with the ravioli inspired dish. The recipe is a quick one and very easy to remember:
Fresh Pasta

3 cups flour
4 eggs
pinch of salt

If you choose to make the pasta by hand, pile the flour on the counter top, make a well in the center, and crack the eggs into the well. Slowly incorporate the eggs into the flour until you can bring the dough together for kneading. You may need a little more flour, you may not use all the flour, it all depends on the day usually. Once the dough is smooth, let it rest for about 20 minutes and then roll out and shape as desired.

If you choose to make the pasta by machine, throw all the ingredients in a food processor and process on high. It should turn to a course meal. You may need to add either an additional egg or some olive oil to the food processor while it is running to get the dough to come together. Dump the pasta meal on the counter and knead for a minute or so. Let dough rest for about 20 minutes and then roll out and shape as desired.
I use both of these methods regularly depending on my mood and they both are fairly easy and always reliable. There’s only a few things that can go wrong and they’re easily fixed. If your dough is too dry, add more liquid: water, oil, eggs — they all work. If your dough is too wet, add a little more flour. If your dough is too lumpy, knead more. That’s it.

Squash Pasta

While my pasta was resting I worked on turning the filling of the ravioli into a sauce. I started working on the squash first. It was peeled, diced, tossed with olive oil, and baked in the oven until it was just browning on top. I set it aside to cool and contemplated a sauce. I knew I wanted something buttery but I also wanted to have something a bit creamy. Butter was the first ingredient, nearly a whole stick, cooked slowly until browned and fragrant. I finely sliced a large shallot and softened it in the browned butter sauce until nearly transparent. For the coup de grace, I finished the sauce off with a good shot of heavy cream which helped to emulsify the sauce somewhat. I added a bit of pasta water to the sauce to bring it all together and tossed the squash in to heat it through. The pasta made it into the sauce shortly after and the sauce coated everything nicely. I sprinkled the whole thing with some freshly dried sage and plated it up.

Squash Pasta

How did it come out? The eater loved it. As usual I was unhappy with some aspect of the dish. I thought the noodles were a little too thick and the dish wasn’t as pretty as I hoped. While the sauce did have a good deal of butter and cream in it, it didn’t come off as being too heavy or oily. The squash matched well with the sauce and the wide noodles were a very good vehicle for the rich, creamy sauce. Did it capture the spirit of butternut squash ravioli? I’d say so.

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2 Responses to “Hearty Noodles with Butternut Squash”

  • Ben says:

    I just made this pasta for the taste and create event and will posting it on my blog later today. I never thought making pasta would be so easy. Thanks a lot for sharing!

  • Jai says:

    That’s so neat. Love the pic of pasta being made. Must have tasted great. –Jai

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