Butternut squash was a totally foreign food to me for many years. I don't think I had ever seen one (that I recognized, at least) until I was in college. This is not to say that my mom didn't expose us to different foods, because she did, I just think that it wasn't a popular vegetable when I was growing up.
I feel like the internet/Pinterest has made a lot of foods more accessible for your average home cook. Maybe it's just me, but doesn't it feel like the under-appreciated vegetables like radishes, cabbage, and leeks are getting a moment in the spotlight? I am still warming up to radishes, but I really like cabbage and I adore leeks now, and previously cabbage was a tolerated vegetable, and I couldn't have identified a leek to save my life.
Anyway, back to butternut squash. My first encounter (sorry, Mom, if you fed them to me earlier; I have no memory of it) with them was in college. I worked in the Theater Department's costume shop, and one of the many perks was that my bosses were incredible cooks, and a few times a month, one of them would bring something delicious to share with everyone. Those were glorious days!
One day I peeked into the crockpot sitting on the communal food table, and the substance inside was bright yellow and completely unidentifiable to me. When I discovered it was butternut squash soup, I was quite nervous. I think the smell of butternut squash baby food might have come to mind, and I wasn't sure if I wanted to try it.
After a moment's debate, I went for it, and--lo and behold--it was like liquid gold. It was incredible. Creamy, thick, and delicious. I immediately requested the recipe and have had a happy relationship with butternut squash ever since.
This recipe isn't based on that soup at all, but it is creamy, cheesy, and slightly peppery. I think next time I will add leeks, because the only thing that could make this sauce more delicious is leeks.
Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce:
1 Tbs olive oil
1 medium-sized butternut squash
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 cups water/vegetable broth
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
First, peel your squash. Slice it in half, then cut off the top and bottom of the squash and discard them. Remove the seeds and the stringy center. Now chop the remaining squash center into small cubes.
In a large frying pan, add the olive oil and the butternut squash. Add the garlic powder, salt, oregano, basil and black pepper and stir until the spices are relatively evenly distributed in the squash. Stir for a two or so minutes on medium-high, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Stir the squash occasionally to keep them from browning.
Once the squash is soft and can be easily pierced with a fork, dump the squash into the blender and add the broth and milk. Blend until smooth. Pour mixture into a stock pot and turn to medium-high heat until the soup is heated through. Add the cheese and let it melt.
Serve over pasta (semolina pasta, like a macaroni or penne) is a great choice for this one.