Creamy butternut squash fettuccine with crispy fried shallots

It's October, and that means it's time for the squash and pumpkin recipes. I love a pumpkin spice latte, pumpkin spice muffin, pumpkin spice anything really. However, when I use sweet winter squashes in savory dishes, I like to add savory punches to keep them from going into sweet dessert territory. This pasta was proclaimed by my boyfriend as one of the best dishes I've made in a long time, and I think it's that combination of sweetness from the squash, acidity from the lemon, creaminess from the cashews, and a crispy, salty, savory finish from the shallots.

Ingredients (serves 4-5)

1 small or half a large butternut squash

Half a medium onion

4-5 cloves of garlic, lightly crushed

1 tbsp neutral oil and a pinch of salt for roasting

1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight

3/4 cup water

1 tbsp lemon juice (a bit less than half a lemon)

1 tbsp maple syrup

3/4 tsp kosher salt

Dash of cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg (about 1/4 tsp of each)

2 tbsp vegan butter

7-8 sage leaves

1 lb fettuccine, reserve 1 cup of pasta water

For the crispy shallots:

1/2 cup oil for frying (avocado oil, vegetable oil, canola oil, etc)

3 large shallots, thinly sliced

Pinch of salt

  1. Cut your butternut squash and onion in half and peel your garlic. Leave the root end on your onion to keep it intact, but remove the outer skin. Remove all seeds from the butternut squash and scoop out any stringy flesh from the cavity. If you have a very small butternut squash, use the whole thing - if it is large, use only half. As shown below, place the garlic cloves inside the cavity of the squash - the moisture of the squash keeps them from burning. Rub 1 tbsp of oil all over the vegetables and sprinkle with salt.

  2. Roast the vegetables for 45 minutes at 400 F. Test the squash with a fork at this time. If you are using a large squash, it may need an additional 15-20 minutes to roast. The squash should be easily pierced with a fork. Set the roasted vegetables aside.

  3. Add the 2 tbsp of vegan butter to a pan until it is melted and sizzling. Turn the heat to low and add the sage leaves. After 2 minutes, turn off the heat and let the sage leaves sit in the butter for another 2 minutes. At this point, the butter should be fragrant. Remove the sage leaves and set the sage infused butter aside.

  4. Remove the root end from the onion. Combine the roasted vegetables in a blender with the raw cashews, water, lemon juice, maple syrup, salt, spices, and sage infused vegan butter. Blend on low at first until the squash and cashews start to break down, then blend on high until the sauce is very smooth and creamy. This should only take about 30 seconds of blending on high, but it depends on your blender. If the sauce seems to thick to blend well, you can add more water 1-2 tbsp at a time until it reaches your desired consistency. However, it should be relatively thick, as we will use the pasta water to thin it when serving.

  5. Cook your pasta in a large pot of generously salted water according to package directions until it is al dente. Strain the pasta and reserve 1 cup of pasta water. Add the sauce to the pasta, using the pasta water to thin the sauce until it is your desired consistency.

For the crispy shallots:

  1. Heat your oil in a small saucepan until it reaches 350 F (if you don't have a thermometer, heat it at medium high for 5 minutes and then reduce the heat to medium).

  2. Fry the thinly sliced shallots for 4-5 minutes, until they are barely browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and place immediately on a paper towel lined plate. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt while hot.

Top each serving of pasta with a generous handful of crispy fried shallots and enjoy!

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