STEPS 4, INGREDIENTS 6, TIME 45 MINS
Well I’m not going to commit myself by claiming it’s definitely the best pasta sauce around, but this orange sweety is certainly up there with a good shot at the title.
Effectively the same basic sauce as you’ll find within my mamma-in-law Marisa’s butternut squash ravioli recipe, this chunky monkey offers a taste double-whammy:
• First you get the delicious taste of soft squash, which is pumpkin-like in consistency. Mmm…
• Then comes the strongest, sweetest kick that’ll have you back for more.
Okay, I know I’m going a little over the top here… but this truly is a mouth-watering sauce (thus my original remark about it maybe being the best pasta sauce).
So without further ado then, let’s make it…
Ingredients: (For a printable PDF shopping list click here, or right-click this link and choose ‘Save target/link as’ to save the list for later.)
750g/26oz butternut squash
15 fresh sage leaves
2 cloves of garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
Large, deep frying pan (ideally with lid)
Big strong chopping knife
Preparation: 10 mins
Cooking: 35 mins
Overall: 45 mins
STEP 1 – Let’s prepare the ingredients, dealing with that squash first…
• Using your sharp knife, chop off the ends off the squash then slice its hard skin away (be careful here!).
Note: If you have a vegetable peeler that’s strong enough, use this instead (but most aren’t)
• Chop the squash in half long-ways and cut out the gunk and seeds in the middle
Now chop the squash into small 1cm cubes. (This is the only dull part – allow 10 mins.)
• Wash and tear the 15 sage leaves
• Chop the ends of the garlic cloves, then peel these and cut into quarters.
STEP 2 – Now we’ll prepare the base flavours of the sauce.
• Pop the butter in the frying pan on a medium heat hob.
• While the butter melts, throw in the garlic, leaves and roughly 2 tablespoons (a large ‘glug’) of extra virgin olive oil.
• Fry and occasionally stir this mixture – turning down the heat if the oil smokes or ‘spits’ – until the garlic turns golden (usually around 4-5 minutes or so).
Tip: Unless you like crunching garlic when eating in your meals, take out the garlic chunks when golden (don’t worry – the garlic’s flavour will already be in the butter/oil mixture).
STEP 3 – Now let’s get this sauce going!
• Throw in all the little squash cubes and stir thoroughly (to coat these in the oil and butter mixture). I also add two pinches of salt – this brings out the sweet taste of the squash even more.
• Turn down the hob to low/medium (I use setting 2 or 3 out of 6), cover the frying pan if you have a lid, and fry the sauce mixture gently for about 30 minutes (stirring occasionally).
STEP 4 – When the sauce’s cubes have softened into a slightly lumpy, creamy consistency, you’re done – that’s the ‘interesting’ consistency we’re looking for.
Tip: At this point I also use a potato masher or fork to just squash around half of the visible squash cubes (not all of them). This gives the sauce a nicely varied texture.
Now: Cook up 400g/14oz of your favourite short pasta (tubed shapes such as rigatoni and penne work well), then drain this and simply stir it into your best pasta sauce.
To serve: Pop the brightly covered pasta into bowls and garnish with any spare sage leaves you have left (wash these leaves and use them whole).
Sweet enough for you? If you liked this budding best pasta sauce, you might also like this pasta alla norma recipe (featuring juicy eggplant/aubergine, which tastes pretty sweet itself). Enjoy!