Wednesday, July 21, 2010

0 Recipe #147: Fettuccine with Butternut Squash & Feta in a Hazelnut-Sage Butter Sauce

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Butternut squash & sage just go together. Combine these ingredients with hazelnuts, a little bit of butter, feta, & some pasta, & you've got something yummy. :)

The creaminess of the butternut squash is just the right consistency & flavor to complement the other ingredients in this dish....

Fettuccine with Butternut Squash & Feta in a Hazelnut-Sage Butter Sauce

2 servings fettuccine
3-4 c. lightly salted water, seasoned with a drop of extra virgin olive oil (to keep pasta from sticking together)
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 c. shallots, finely minced (about 2 large shallots)
2 c. butternut squash, peeled & diced into 1" cubes  (about 1 small squash)
2 Tbsp. hazelnuts, chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh sage leaves, tightly packed (about 6 medium-sized leaves)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves (about 3-4 sprigs)
1 c. water (add & cook 10-15 more minutes)
2 servings (dried) Barilla fettuccine pasta, measured with a spaghetti measure
1/4 c. light non-dairy creamer (optional)
2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 c. nonfat feta cheese
2 tsp. fresh Italian flat leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped (for garnish)

Directions: In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil & melt butter. Then add shallots & butternut squash & sauté over low heat until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Stir occasionally; do not let shallots & butternut squash brown too much or burn. Also, it's very important to avoid crowding the pan: Be sure to spread out ingredients evenly across pan, so that they cook uniformly. Add hazelnuts & sage, & cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until sage has become slightly crisped/shriveled. Season with salt & pepper, add thyme & then water (to deglaze). Also add creamer at this point, if using. Cook for 10-15 more minutes, until liquid has reduced to a thin layer on the bottom of the pan. Stir occasionally to keep ingredients from sticking or burning.

While sauce is cooking, make pasta: Bring medium-sized pot of lightly salted water to a boil and cook pasta until al dente, about 9-11 minutes. Remove from heat & drain. Transfer to colander, shock with cold water, & drain again. Divide pasta into 2 equal portions, transfer to bowls, & set aside.

When sauce has finished, remove from heat. Add lemon juice & nutmeg, & then quickly stir in feta cheese to melt it slightly & make the sauce creamier. Pour sauce onto pasta. Garnish with parsley & serve immediately. Time to dig in! :)

Yield: Serves 2.

Chef's Notes: To prepare butternut squash, cut in half and scoop out the seeds & strings in the center cavity. Flip the squash halves upside down and peel them. You might want to wear gloves while doing this, as the raw squash rind can apparently irritate your hands. Mine didn't itch or tingle while peeling or cutting the squash, but of course, that's just me. :)

Variations: If you prefer, you can substitute goat cheese or freshly shredded or shaved Parmegiano-Reggiano cheese for the feta.

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