An autumn dinner in a bowl, you roast this sauce in the oven for about 30 minutes. Chunks of sweet squash, roasted herbs, and greens topped over pasta is a perfectly balanced meal. You could cook this dish ahead through Step 6 and then bake it in a shallow casserole, topping it with extra cheese in the last 5 minutes of baking.
5 quarts salted water in a 6-quart pot
3 to 3-1/2 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into bite-sized chunks
1 medium to large onion, cut into 1" chunks
2 big handfuls escarole or curly endive that has been washed, dried, and torn into small pieces, or spring mix
1/3 tight-packed cup fresh basil leaves, torn
16 large fresh sage leaves, torn
5 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup good-tasting extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tight-packed tbsp brown sugar (light or dark)
Salt and fresh-ground black pepper
1 lb. imported bow tie pasta
1/2 cup half-and-half cream
1 to 1-1/2 cups (about 6 oz.) shredded Asiago cheese
Step 1: Slip one large or two smaller shallow sheet pans into the oven. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Bring the salted water to a boil.
Step 2: In a big bowl, toss together all the ingredients for the roasted vegetables. Be generous with the salt and pepper.
Step 3: Pull out the oven rack holding the sheet pan. Taking care not to burn yourself, turn the squash blend onto the hot sheet pan and spread it out. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the squash is tender, turning the vegetables two or three times during roasting.
Step 4: As the squash becomes tender, drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook it until tender, but with some firmness to the bite. Drain in a colander.
Step 5: Once the squash is tender, turn on the broiler to caramelize it. Watch the vegetables closely, turning the pieces often. Anticipate about 5 minutes under the broiler. You want crusty brown edges on the squash and wilted, almost crisp greens.
Step 6: Scrape everything into a serving bowl. Add the half-and-half cream, hot pasta, and 1 cup of the cheese. Toss to blend, tasting for salt and pepper. Add more cheese if desired. Serve hot.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
Reprinted with permission from Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift's The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper (2008 Clarkson Potter).