Sometimes you can blag your way into a restaurant kitchen (O Arriana in Gavoi, Sardinia) and I was lucky enough to watch an Italian 'Nonna' cook this fairly simple but oh-so-delicious dish in her ridiculously-small kitchen just before we all polished off the lot! Naturally, she had made her own fresh pasta which was sublime but time doesn't always allow so very good quality dried pasta works nearly as well. She made sure I was very aware that roasting the butternut squash to caramelise the edges was 'molto importante'! Sadly, the restaurant was taken over and expanded many years ago but I like to imagine the 'Nonna' would approve of my version - I hope so! —Fiona Kirk
Small butternut squash
Tasty olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Garlic cloves (skin on)
Dried pasta (large tubes)
Extra virgin olive oil
In This Recipe
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.
Peel the butternut squash, halve it, scoop out the seeds and cut the flesh into bite-sized chunks, place them in a bowl with the olive oil, a good pinch of salt and a few good grindings of pepper, mix well then place all the chunks (spacing them well) on a non-stick baking tray.
Pop the garlic cloves in amongst them then transfer to a high shelf in the oven and roast (turning occasionally) for 20 to 30 minutes or until they are nicely caramelised around the edges and still deliciously soft inside.
Pop the sage leaves in amongst the squash and roast for a further 5 to 10 minutes (don’t let them burn).
Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.
When the pasta is cooked, transfer the squash, sage and garlic cloves (skin them and mash the flesh in amongst the whole lot) to a warm serving bowl and with a slotted spoon, transfer the pasta to the squash/sage/garlic mix, stir carefully so as not to break up the squash, drizzle a good glug of extra virgin olive oil, a generous grating of Pecorino cheese and lots of black pepper over and serve.