Squash pusher

[Recipe: Sweet Roasted Butternut Squash & Kale over Farfalle]

I admit it: When it comes to the story of dinner, I’m prone to burying the lede where squash is involved.


The question comes, inevitably, from my girls somewhere around 4:30 p.m., and they want all five ‘Ws’: “Mom, what’s for dinner?” I hype the least-offensive ingredients: The “butterfly” pasta part (farfalle, for you purists), the Parmesan cheesy part, whatever other parts won’t push their noses up into disapproving wrinkles. I put off mentioning the squash part somewhere toward the end, because I know what protests will ensue. And I don’t want to hear it.

Maybe I should just get it over with, bad news first, good news second style. Start with a shrug, end with a song.

Yes, squash can be bad news around here. I may love it, heart and soul, for its versatility and color, for its long list of nutrients, but my girls are rightly skeptical: I remember how much I disliked squash as a kid. So much that ‘disliked’ is a pretty rich euphemism.


This winter, though, I issued myself a challenge: Find new ways to prepare squash that my girls will actually enjoy. I wanted to work a little motherly magic (is there such a thing?) in favor of getting them hooked on squash.

Winter’s nearly over and while they’re not quite hooked, their feelings about squash are now more reserved than skeptical. That, for me, is a triumph, one that followed the path of maple-soy glazed acorn squash and spaghetti squash pancakes.

This recipe, though, was the hands-down winner. This is the one that sealed the deal.

Sweet Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale over Farfalle

adapted from The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper, by Lynne Rosetto Kasper & Sally Swift

While plenty of squash varieties would work here, so would other greens. The original recipe calls for escarole or curly endive. It also calls for half-and-half, but I didn’t have that on hand and so saved about a half cup of the pasta water to coat the pasta with instead. The result was still full and plenty rich.

For the vegetables:

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into bite-sized chunks
1 medium onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 bunch kale, washed, dried and torn into small pieces
1/3 C tightly packed fresh basil leaves, torn
16 large fresh sage leaves, torn
5 garlic cloves, coarse chopped
1/4 C extra-virgin olive oil
1 packed tbsp brown sugar (I’m using Billington’s)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pasta:
1 lb farfalle (bow-tie pasta)
1 C shredded Parmesan or Asiago cheese

Place a large sheet pan in the oven. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a large bowl, toss together all ingredients for the vegetables (butternut squash through salt and pepper). (Lynne says be generous with the S&P — I agree.) Carefully turn the squash blend onto the pre-heated sheet pan and spread it out. Roast for 25 minutes, or until squash is tender, turning two or three times during roasting.

During the last 15 minutes or so of roasting time, cook pasta until tender but not soft, reserving about a half a cup of the pasta water.

When the squash is tender, turn on the broiler. Watch the vegetables closely and turn pieces often with a spatula, removing them from the oven when the squash is dark golden brown and the greens are near crisp.

Scrape vegetables into a serving bowl. Add some of the pasta water, the cooked pasta, and cheese. Stir to blend, adding more pasta water or salt and pepper as needed.

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7 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    gourmetmomma said,

    i just mash it up with some butter and a bit of brown sugar and cinnamon. then i spoon it onto my child’s plate and VISABLY drizzle it with maple syrup. they eat it without complaint. it’s like mashed sweet potatoes, only with squash.

  2. 2

    Jude said,

    My favorite squash recipe involves lots of cream, but this looks great to me. Nice to know that half-and-half can be replaced with pasta water.

  3. 3

    This kind of dish is right up my alley – I love the combination of squash and leafy greens! Just got some endives in my CSA… may have to pick up a squash now!

  4. 4

    Muneeba said,

    I never had squash growing up, but I reeeeeeeally love it now. I just experimented with it one day on my own – I think it was butternut squash ravioli – and it just sang to me! Been hooked ever since … so this farfalle dish is right up my alley. Thks for sharing!

  5. 5

    Trisha said,

    gourmetmomma: The vegetable nutrient factor is worth the sweet bribe now and again, right? We do what we’ve gotta…

    Jude: Pasta water — because it’s starchy — is a great trick for a light pasta sauce. And it doesn’t take up pantry space or require any extra steps!

    Camille: Love the combo too, for looks and taste.

    Muneeba: Butternut makes a super luxe ravioli filler. Glad you’ve joined the squash-loving club!

  6. 6

    Alex said,

    Well done on winning the battle!

  7. 7

    […] on my list of squash preparations is this one. It’s bound to convince any hold-out, anyone with lingering squash […]

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