This healthy weeknight dinner uses half butternut squash noodles and half pasta to create a delicious vegetarian meal. Walnuts, fried sage, leeks & lemon add flavor & texture to this cold-weather dish!
Get excited, it’s fall faux noodle time! In the past we’ve done papaya, zucchini, and cucumber, but today we’re making butternut squash noodles. I mixed these pretty orange julienned spirals with regular noodles and made this simple leek & sage pasta. Of course, you could make this same dish with cubed squash, but you can’t twirl cubes on your fork, so where’s the fun in that?
The butternut squash noodles make for a fun texture variation – I cooked them for less time than the pasta noodles, so they had nice firm bite. I topped it all with walnuts, fried sage, and chile flakes.
The squash is little bit more difficult to get through than a cucumber, but it was easy once I figured out this little trick. Slice your squash lengthwise in half (scrape out the seeds), and then slice the half (lengthwise again) into 5 or 6 thinner wedge-shaped strips that are closer in width to your peeler (an inch and a half or so). Push your julienne peeler over each wedge, and voilà… butternut squash noodles… and a *bonus* arm workout.
(I have this julienne peeler).
Butternut Squash Noodle Pasta
- 10 sage leaves
- 2 cups spiraled butternut squash (about ¼ of a large one)
- 1½ cups leeks, white and light green parts
- 4 ounces brown rice pasta
- Canola, grapeseed or other high-heat oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon butter (or vegan earth balance)
- ¼ cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
- A few pinches of red chile flakes
- Sea salt and fresh black pepper
- Grated pecorino cheese, or crumbly cheese
- Drizzle of balsamic or reduced balsamic
- First, fry the sage. In a large skillet, add enough oil to well coat the bottom. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, test-fry 1 sage leaf. In a few seconds it should turn deeper green, remove and drain on a paper towel, it should become crispy as it dries. If it burns turn your heat down and test another. (I put 10 leaves in the recipe so you can mess up a few). Once your oil is at the right temp, fry them all. Drain and set aside. Turn off the heat and let the pan cool for a few minutes, then pour out excess oil, leaving just enough to continue to cook with.
- Boil pasta in salty water for 8 minutes, or until al-dente. In the last 2 minutes, add the butternut squash spirals.
- Meanwhile, turn your large skillet back up to medium heat. Add the leeks and a few pinches of salt & pepper. Cook until soft and translucent, then add the minced garlic. When your pasta & butternut noodles are ready, drain and add them to the skillet, reserving ¼ to ½ cup of the starchy pasta water for later.
- Add a few squeezes of lemon, a pat of butter, and a few good pinches of salt, pepper, and red chile flakes. Toss everything together to coat. Add pasta water, ¼ cup at a time if necessary to loosen the pasta.
- Once the butternut noodles are tender but still have a firm bite, turn the heat off (you don't want mushy butternut squash). Taste and adjust seasonings, then transfer the pasta to a serving platter or bowls.
- Top with chopped walnuts and fried sage leaves.
- Serve with grated pecorino and/or balsamic vinegar, if you like.