When I was pregnant with my first child, I made this pasta twice a week for dinner. I craved it again during my second pregnancy, and while my husband refuses to eat it now (I can hardly blame him), I still enjoy it frequently. It’s just so good. If you don’t want to cut up a whole butternut squash for this recipe, you can buy frozen, diced squash or substitute a sweet potato. When in season, other vegetables can be substituted as well; in the summer I eat this with roasted cherry tomatoes. —sarah kieffer | the vanilla bean blog
4 to 6
butternut squash, peeled and diced
pasta (almost any will work; I use spaghetti)
Preheat the oven to 400° F. Place the squash on a sheet pan, then drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt (a good pinch or two). Toss to combine, then make sure all the pieces are flat on the pan, not on top of each other. Bake until the squash is tender and browned, stirring occasionally, 20 to 25 minutes.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt (I add 1 tablespoon), then add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
While the pasta is cooking, crumble the goat cheese in the bottom of large bowl and set aside. Melt the butter over medium heat, and then stir in the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the vermouth and cook until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, and add the basil and thyme.
Add the pasta to the goat cheese, and using tongs or serving spoons, toss until the goat cheese is evenly coating the pasta (pour a little of the reserved water on top if you need to loosen the cheese). Pour the butter-herb mixture on top, and toss until combined. Add the roasted butternut squash and caramelized onions, and toss gently until combined; season with salt and pepper to taste, and top with toasted pecans, if desired.