Bucatini Pasta with Butternut Squash Sauce, Feta, and Pistachios

Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser Yield:  4 servings
Prep Time:  10 minutes Cook Time:  20 minutes

Bucatini Pasta with Butternut Squash Sauce, Feta, and Pistachios

This quick, homemade pasta sauce doesn’t require tomatoes. Ras al hanout, an aromatic North African spice mix, infuses the simple butternut squash sauce with luscious flavor and enticing aroma. The tangy feta and rich pistachios make for a luscious meal of contrasting flavors and textures. This recipe makes more sauce than you will likely need, but it won’t go to waste. You can freeze it in an airtight container and use it within three months. Or add a cup of very good stock and some fried sage and you’ve got a soup.

Ingredients

1 pound bucatini pasta

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1¼ pounds pre-cut, peeled, seeded butternut squash, cut into ½-inch pieces

¾ cup Roasted Vegetable Stock or store-bought low-sodium vegetable stock

1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons Savory Ras al Hanout spice mixture (see Kitchen Tips)

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup shredded ricotta salata or crumbled feta (see Kitchen Tips)

1 cup shelled, toasted pistachios, roughly chopped

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the pasta al dente, according to the package directions. Drain in a fine-mesh sieve and keep warm, reserving ½ cup of the cooking water.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saucepan set over high heat until it shimmers. Add the squash, stock, vinegar,  ras al hanout, salt, and pepper and stir well. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, for 15 to 18 minutes, until the squash is completely soft.
  3. Using an immersion blender, blend the squash mixture until smooth. Add as much of the reserved pasta water as you need to achieve a nice saucy consistency. Stir to incorporate.
  4. Transfer the pasta into a serving bowl, spoon the sauce over it, and toss gently to coat. Scatter the feta and pistachios over the top and serve immediately.

Kitchen Tips

  1. Ras al Hanout, the North African spice mixture, can be found in well-stocked groceries and spice shops or online, but it isn’t hard to make from scratch. Try any of The Weiser Kitchen’s variations:  Savory Ras al Hanout; Hot, Savory Ras al Hanout; Sweet Ras al Hanout; or Hot, Sweet Ras al Hanout.   
  2. We used ricotta salata cheese for this dish but the Test Kitchen staff agreed that a more assertive cheese, such as feta, would work equally well.
  3. You can find toasted or roasted nuts in most supermarkets, but if you can’t, or if you prefer to roast your own, try The Weiser Kitchen’s Roasted Nuts recipe. If someone at your table is allergic to nuts, try toasted sunflower seeds instead.

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