It's no secret I have a bit of a love affair with brown butter and sage. I was way too old the first time I experienced the dynamic duo last Christmas. I made homemade butternut squash gnocchi in a brown butter sage creme fraiche sauce and it was quite possibly the most epic and decadent meal I've ever made and oh so worthy for a first vegetarian christmas. I do submit that there is no better smell in the world than crispy sage cooking in bubbly brown butter. It's cozy, comforting, and so damn decadent.
So inspired by that dish I decided to make a simpler, more week-night appropriate version. The result is perfection. Creamy roasted butternut squash is puréed with tangy goat cheese and a dollop of creme fraiche. The sauce is then poured over pasta and topped with crispy sage and brown butter. It's holiday worthy, it's cozy, and it's so good.
Creamy Butternut Squash Goat Cheese Pasta with Brown Butter & Crispy Sage
Inspired by Chow
1 large butternut squash
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1 large bunch of sage, about 2 oz
3 large shallots
1 pound angel hair pasta
1/8 tsp nutmeg
3.75 oz creme fraiche
2.5 oz goat cheese
3/4 - 1 cup pasta water
3/4 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Slice butternut squash length-wise, remove the seeds (they are great roasted separately in olive oil) and discard the stringy center. Drizzle the squash with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then cook on a baking sheet cut-side up for 45 minutes - 1 hour until completely soft and the top begins to look caramelized. Set aside to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, warm 2 tbsp of butter in a medium skillet over medium heat and slice shallots (everything gets blended together so how you slice them doesn't matter much). Add the shallots to the butter and sauté until soft and just slightly browned. Pour cooked shallots into a blender.
Bring a large stock pot of salted water to a boil. Warm the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter over medium low heat. The butter will warm and white bubbles with appear. Just as the bubbles begin to subside add in whole sage leaves. The sage will start to become crispy, and the butter will start to turn a rich caramel color with little brown bits. Watch like a hawk as this happens as brown butter turns to burnt butter quickly. I like to bring the brown butter right to the edge of burnt to get it as caramelly with as many brown bits as possible.
Once water is boiling, add the pasta and cook. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water for the sauce and place drained pasta in a sauté pan.
Once it's cooled enough to handle, scrape out the center of the butternut squash with a spoon and add it to the blender. Add the nutmeg, creme fraiche, and goat cheese and blend. Slowly add in pasta water, starting with 1/2 a cup and adding more until you reach your desired thickness. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour the sauce over the pasta and toss. Once combined, top with brown butter and sage and toss lightly with tongs as not to break the sage leaves. Top with parmesan and serve.
Notes: To blend I used my vitamix but any blender should work, as well as a food processor. I've made this with homemade pasta and dried. It's approximately twice as good with homemade, but I realize normal people don't have that kind of time.