Soft and creamy mascarpone cheese forms the base for a pasta sauce that's deliciously rich and absolutely simple. This dish also makes a fabulous first course for six.
1 butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1 1/4 teaspoons dried sage
1 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup half-and-half
3 scallions including green tops, chopped
3/4 pound penne
1/4 pound sliced smoked ham, such as Black Forest, cut into thin strips
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
How to Make It
Heat the oven to 450°. Put the squash on a large baking sheet and toss with the oil, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, the pepper, and sage. Spread the squash out in a single layer. Roast, turning occasionally, until tender and starting to brown, 15 to 20 minutes.
In a small bowl, stir together the mascarpone, half-and-half, scallions, and the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt.
Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the penne until just done, about 13 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta-cooking water and drain. Return the pasta to the hot pan. Stir in the squash, mascarpone sauce, and ham. If the sauce seems too thick, add some of the reserved pasta-cooking water. Serve topped with the Parmesan.
Instead of butternut squash, roast cubes of another winter squash, such as pumpkin or acorn squash--or try roasting cubed sweet potatoes.
Wine Recommendation: A Gewurztraminer from Alsace may sound like an unusual choice here, but try it; you'll be surprised at how beautifully the sweet butternut squash and salty ham blend with the wine's rich, spicy flavors.
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We love this recipe and have made it twice, I will make and serve this to other foodies this fall. I like the recipe just as is. The mascarpone cheese is perfect - not the least bit heavy. Roasting the squash brings out a richness to the smooth flavor. I don't generally like Black Forest ham, but due to the small amount in the recipe, it stand up well without overpowering it. Perfect fall pasta dish! To accompany, I made a simple green salad and grilled store-bought naan.
Great recipe. I used part-skim ricotta instead of mascapone, and it turned out great (with less calories). I also added crushed red pepper flakes. When I make it again will add sun-dried tomatoes. Overall a definite keeper!
This recipe turned out very well, despite not having the right tools and ingredients. I roasted the squash cut in half instead of cubed and then scooped it out. I did not have green onions or mascarpone, so I used sauteed red onions and gouda cheese. It would have looked better presentation-wise if I had cubed the squash. I will definitely make this again.
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