FUSILLI WITH BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND SAGE (for four)
one 2 to 2-1/4 pound butternut squash with a long neck
2 cups water
one 1-1/2 to 2 ounce bunch of sage, stems discarded (1-1/4 cups leaves), divided
1 medium-large onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for serving
1 pound fusilli or rotini
1 cup vegetable oil
- Cut off neck of squash (reserve bulbous end, wrapped and chilled, for another use). Peel neck and cut into roughly roughly 1 inch cubes (3-1/2 to 4 cups). Grind in a food processor until very finely chopped. Combine with water and ½ teaspoon salt in a heavy medium saucepan and briskly simmer, uncovered, stirring once or twice, until tender, 10 t o 15 minutes.
- Chop 1 tablespoon sage. While squash is simmering, cook onion in olive oil with ¼ teaspoon salt in a 12 inch heavy skillet over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic and chopped sage and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add squash and simmer, stirring and mashing squash, 2 minutes. Stir in cheese and season with salt and pepper.
- Drop the pasta into a pot of abundant boiling salted water. Cook until tender but firm to the bite (about 10 minutes for Barilla. If you are using another brand of dried pasta, follow instructions on box).
- While pasta is cooking, pat sage leaves dry, if necessary, with paper towels. Heat vegetable oil in an 8 to 9 inch skillet over high heat until it shimmers. Test frying temperature by dipping the tip of a leaf in the oil. If it bubbles briskly, it’s ready. Add a small handful of leaves (they will make quite a commotion) and fry, stirring with a slotted spoon, until crisp but still green, 10 to 30 seconds (they will continue to crisp as they cool). Transfer first batch to paper towels to drain and fry remaining leaves in 3 to 4 batches. Season with salt.
- Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water, then drain pasta and add to sauce. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until well coated, about 1 minute, thinning if necessary with some of the reserved pasta water.
- Transfer to a large bowl and serve fried sage leaves on the side.
adapted from Gourmet Pasta, May, 2013