Orecchiette with Roasted Butternut Squash, Kale, and Caramelized Red Onion

November 21, 2010
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

This recipe is for the butternut squash lover. It was inspired by a pasta dish that I had at an Italian restaurant in Charlottesville called Tavola (which is outstanding if you are ever in the area). Their version had less butternut squash and a little more cream. I love butternut squash, but if you don't have the same mild obsession that I do, only roast the squash and add it at the very end so it retains it shape. I love this dish both ways. —Plum Pie

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Plum Pie works in media, marketing, and sales in Texas. And -- you guessed it -- she loves pie.
WHAT: Yet another reason to love squash (and kale, and adorably shaped pasta).
HOW: Roast squash in the oven while you caramelize red onions on the stove. Sauté even more squash with garlic and kale, then add chicken broth, cream, and white wine to make a sauce. Mix the sauce with some cooked orecchiette, the oven-roasted squash, and the onions, then top with goat cheese, Parmesan, and sage.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Call us crazy, but we find that on its own, roasted butternut squash can often be too sweet for savory dishes. But pairing it with spicy cayenne, pleasantly bitter kale, and plenty of cheese reminds us we’re eating dinner -- not dessert. Plus, this recipe lets us enjoy squash both intact, as caramelized, oven-roasted cubes, and broken down a little farther into a creamy pasta sauce. Use vegetable broth to make this dish meat-free. —The Editors

  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 4
  • 1 large butternut squash, cut into small cubes, divided
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Salt and pepper, for seasoning
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 pound orecchiette
  • 1 or 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups chicken broth, divided
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 ounce goat cheese, optional
  • 1 tablespoon chopped sage
  • parmesan cheese, to serve
In This Recipe
  1. Preheat oven to 425° F. Toss all but 1 cup of the butternut squash with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, pepper, a pinch of cayenne pepper, and the nutmeg. Roast until butternut squash pieces are tender and caramelized, about 30 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium saucepan over low heat. Cook sliced red onions until caramelized, about 30 minutes. Set aside.
  3. Heat a pot of water over high heat until boiling. Salt water generously. Cook orecchiette according to package instructions until al dente.
  4. Meanwhile, heat another tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy pan over medium-high heat. Cook the remaining cup of butternut squash for approximately 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add 1/2 cup of the chicken broth and cook until broth is almost completely absorbed.
  5. Remove the middle stems from the kale and roughly chop the leaves. Add kale to butternut squash and stir until kale has softened. Add caramelized red onions.
  6. Add white wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add remaining chicken broth and reduce, about 10 minutes.
  7. Turn heat to low and add the heavy cream. When the pasta is al dente, add it to the pan with the sauce. Add the roasted butternut squash.
  8. Loosen sauce with pasta water if needed. Sprinkle with goat cheese (optional), sage, and Parmesan cheese.

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