Tuesday, November 16, 2004


Sausage and squash go together like peanut butter and jelly as far as I’m concerned, not that I’d want to make a sandwich out of them. (Well, maybe...) But pasta, yes. This one is easy, straightforward, and colorful (the basil is a nice, bright touch). I particularly recommend following it up with Apple Crisp, as I did on Sunday night. It makes a fine fall feast.

1 pound rotini or other curly pasta
1 medium butternut squash (about 1¾ pounds)
¾ pound hot Italian sausage links, casings removed (I like chicken sausage)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Boil a large pot of salted water for cooking the pasta.

2. While the water heats, peel the butternut squash (this will be a true test of the quality of your vegetable peeler), trim off the stem end, slice the squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds. Cut the squash flesh (there’s a great phrase for you) into ½-inch pieces and set it aside.

3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat (use one that has a lid; you’ll need it later). Add the sausage to the skillet, breaking it apart with the back of a spoon as they cook. Cook the sausage, stirring frequently, about 7 minutes until browned. Remove it from the skillet with a slotted spoon, onto a plate lined with paper towels. The recipe here says to “discard all but 2 tablespoons of drippings from the skillet,” but yikes, I’ve never had a measurable amount of drippings left over—more like an oily coating on the pan. What kind of greasy sausages are these people using?

4. Add the squash, salt, and pepper to the drippings in the skillet, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan with the lid, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until the squash is tender.

5. When the water boils, add the pasta. Cook it until al dente. Reserve ¾ cup of pasta water before draining the pasta.

6. Add the sausage, basil, Parmesan, pasta, and pasta water to the squash in the skillet and toss everything together well. Serve it topped with a bit more Parmesan, and freshly ground black pepper.

Serves: 6
Time: 40 minutes

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