This is an unusual pasta sauce that mixes sweet butternut squash with the salty flavours of blue cheese and sage, with some added crunch from the toasted pine nuts. It's a satisfying, savoury dish which should please vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.
You could also use St. Agur, or an Italian soft cheese like Gorgonzola
Ingredients 1 large butternut squash, approximately 1.25-1.5kg before preparation
1 large onion
2 x 15ml tablespoons olive oil (or other vegetable oil)
3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 x 15ml tablespoon unsalted butter
4 x 15ml tablespoons Marsala
100g pine nuts
500g pasta (of your choice, but it needs something quite big - don't use a small, thin pasta)
6 fresh sage leaves
125g soft blue cheese (I used a Scottish Highland cheese - Strathdon Blue)
Peel and de-seed the large butternut squash (I find it easier to cut into smaller portions to peel) and then chop into small 2cm cubes.
The squash, chopped into smaller sections
This is the most boring part of the recipe - but it is worth the effort. Alternatively - use prepared squash from your local supermarket!
Peel and finely chop the onion and then fry in large pan with a heavy-bottomed base, which is big enough to take the pasta.
When the onion starts to brown, add the paprika.
You can also use non-smoked paprika for this recipe, if you prefer it.
Add the butternut squash and butter to the onions, mixing it all together. Once it's combined, add the Marsala and the water. Let it start to bubble, put the lid on, and then simmer on a lower heat for about 20 minutes.
While the squash is cooking, heat up the water for the pasta.
Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan on the hob. Be careful as they will quickly turn from golden brown to burnt. When they are dark gold take them off the heat and put them in a bowl to cool.
From pale to golden in a few short minutes
Check whether the squash is ready. It should be tender, but still hold its cubed shape.
Take the squash off the heat while you cook the pasta as per the packet instructions.
Chop the sage leaves, and crumble the blue cheese.
You could also use dried sage, but fresh is better, if you can get it.
Sprinkle the sage leaves over the squash, and then stir it.
The sage adds an extra dimension to the flavour. Sweet butternut squash can be a little bland
Before you drain the pasta, retain a cupful of water in case the sauce is too dry.
Drain the pasta, and add into the squash pan. If the sauce is too dry, then add the reserved water.
Add the crumbled cheese to the squash and half of the pine nuts. Toss together.
Salad servers would be ideal for tossing the pasta together, especially if you are using a pasta like paperdelle
Serve, sprinkling the pine nuts and remaining sage over each plate.