For the record, I love butter. Love it. So for me to replace it with something else—especially something healthy—the end result has to be delicious. And this certainly is.
Last fall, I was going crazy for roasted butternut squash. Then one day, I happened upon a recipe for a butternut squash and parmesan sauce. I’d never thought about puréeing the thing before, but it seemed like a potentially yummy idea. I decided to try making a faux alfredo, leaving out butter entirely. And oh my, was it good! I’m not going to say it was better than alfredo (I feel like a statement claiming anything to be better than alfredo might potentially be blasphemous), but it is equally good, in a different way. The squash gives it a nice richness and depth of flavor—it’s a surprise to find out that there is no butter in it whatsoever. And it’s healthy (or, not as unhealthy), so you can justify snacking on the leftovers incessantly (and there will be leftovers—this yields a lot of sauce). If you don’t like leftovers and you aren’t feeding a family of 8, I recommend cutting this recipe in half.
Butternut Squash Alfredo
yield: approx. 4 cups of sauce
- 1 medium-sized butternut squash (approx. 3–4 lbs)
- 1 ½ cups of half & half (or more, if sauce seems too thick)
- 1 cup of fresh parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 2 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 425°. Cut squash in half lengthwise. Scrape out seeds and pulp. Arrange squash in a pan, cut side down (you may need to halve your halves or use two pans if you can’t get it to fit). Cover with tinfoil and roast for 45 minutes, until squash is tender.
Remove squash from oven and let cool. Once it is cool enough to handle, scrape out soft squash meat with a spoon. Combine squash, half & half, parmesan, and salt in a blender or food processor and purée until smooth (using an immersion blender would work fine as well). Add sauce to whatever pasta dish you’d like! I’ve used this as a sauce for lasagna before, and it was quite good. My favorite way to use it, however, is in a sort of faux mac & cheese. I cook an entire package of chicciole pasta (they hold sauce well and they look like screaming faces), steam one small package of frozen peas, saute one medium-sized head of broccoli (cut into small florets), combine everything (including sauce) together, distribute between two baking dishes, sprinkle breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese over top, and bake for 20–30 minutes. So good! Because it’s so tasty, I’m having trouble envisioning other ways to use this sauce. I welcome suggestions!