The farmer’s market is currently packed with fall favorites. This is prime roasting season and, much like people go bonkers for pumpkin everything as soon as October hits, my heart goes pitter patter for butternut squash in November! Last Saturday, I did a double take at the most gorgeous butternut babies perfectly arranged on a rustically rickety wooden table and nearly tripped over my own feet to get there. Without flinching, I threw money down on the table, snatched my squash baby, and headed for my car in a dreamlike state considering all the culinary possibilities. The squash was my oyster. Thank goodness I opted for the autopilot option.
Then it hit me: roasted butternut squash alfredo! Cheesy, creamy, squashy, yummy…
My friend, Celeste, is a butternut aficionado and was our dinner guest. (She’s pretty much our guest every time she’s in town. We love her.) And, short of me smacking her hand every time she tried to steal a piece of hot squash from the oven, she awarded this dish the Celeste Seal of Approval.
So, for this super flexible recipe, you’ll need:
- 2-3 pound fresh butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
- Canola oil
- 5 tablespoons organic unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup organic 2% milk (you could use whole, too)
- 2 cups, preferably homemade, organic chicken stock or broth (see my stock recipe here)
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- A splash’s worth of organic cream or half and half
- Cracked black pepper
- Sea salt
- Fresh grated nutmeg (optional)
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Toss the cubed butternut squash with a tablespoon of canola oil, a nice pinch of sea salt, cracked black pepper to taste, and a smidge of fresh grated nutmeg if you so choose. (I didn’t have any in my pantry, so I didn’t include it this time.) Line an oven-safe vessel with parchment paper and lay out the squash in a single layer.
Roast the squash for about 30 minutes until it starts browning. Caramelization is your friend.
Next, get out a nice heavy pot; I prefer to use enameled cast iron. (Actually, I always prefer these.) It’s time to make a roux! This is just a fancy way of saying to melt the 5 tablespoons of butter over medium heat and vigorously whisk in the 2 tablespoons of flour until you get a smooth paste. (For my gluten-free friends, try white rice flour.) This is what will begin to thicken the sauce. Cook this roux for 3-4 minutes while whisking constantly.
Now add the cup of milk and 2 cups of chicken stock (For my vegetarian friends, use veggie stock). Keep whisking and bring this all to a gentle simmer for 5 minutes. It should slightly thicken. Add more liquid (more stock or water would be fine) if it’s too pasty.
Now it’s time to add the roasted butternut squash. You should have about 5-6 cups, give or take, of the roasted veggie. It doesn’t have to be exact. Be gentle! I don’t want you splashing hot liquid all over yourself and saying I told you to do it.
Hopefully, you have an immersion blender handy because this’ll make your life really easy. If not, a large food processor or blender would work just fine. (Truth be told, I like to do as few dishes as possible.)
Turn the heat to low, and blend the contents of the pot until nice and smooth.
This took me about 2 minutes. (Look, a rare glimpse of me cooking! You thought it was all a clever ruse, didn’t you?)
Next add two small handfuls, about a cup’s worth, of fresh grated parmesan cheese and a healthy splash of half and half or cream. I usually have half and half on hand for coffee, so I used this. Like I said, this recipe is super flexible. Bring this back to a gentle simmer for 2-3 minutes, and give it a taste. I added cracked black pepper and a pinch of sea salt to mine.
Serve this roasted butternut alfredo over your favorite pasta, but I do recommend a tube-shaped pasta like rigatoni, ziti, or penne. The sauce finds its way to the hollow center and, for sauce gluttons like myself, this is the only way to roll.
Happy stretchy pants season, everyone! I’m so happy Fall is finally here.