I know, it’s January now and you’ve endured months of stuffed squash this and pumpkin spice that, but I have one last squash-centric recipe to throw onto the pile. But before you groan, you should know it has cheese. You’re probably into cheese… unless you’re lactose intolerant. In which case, I bet you’re still into cheese but cheese isn’t into you – but I digress. My point is this creamy Mascarpone Butternut Bucatini just wants you to give it a chance. All it wants is to comfort you through this most blustery of seasons. It’s not its fault it’s in cahoots with butternut squash. The squash gives it its velvety texture; its pleasing hint of sweet; its compelling hue. It had to make friends with the butternut – had to! Just humor me with this one and I promise not to so much as look at a squash until September. Deal? Deal!
In the kitchen, I often find myself getting stuck on one particular ingredient or technique. One year, I couldn’t stop doing weird things to béchamel. Another year I pushed the culinary capabilities of the watermelon to its very limit. This year I have developed an obsession with mascarpone. In part, it’s due to the fact that I just learned how to pronounce it correctly (I have my Italian literate boyfriend to thank for that), but mostly it’s because I discovered how delicious it is in savory recipes. I’ve always been a fan of it in tiramisu because it’s tiramisu, but I hadn’t given much thought on how mascarpone and garlic would get on. Well, my Smoked Salmon Arancini changed all that.
Following my success with the arancini, mascarpone invaded my brain. I currently have three recipes in the works that feature this impossibly creamy cheese. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Today is all about this charmer, Mascarpone Butternut Bucatini.
The sauce for this dish came together very easily. I knew the butternut puree would create a smooth pleasing texture, while the mascarpone would emphasize it and add a little (a lot) fat to the mix. I also knew that the squash would bring an element of sweetness, so I decided to select a punchy herbal element to contrast that. I landed on oregano because of its assertive flavor and slight bitterness. Finally, I upped the umami factor by adding a healthy dose of Parmesan and the rest is very delicious history.
Since I knew I wanted to make a very creamy, clingy sauce, it made sense to use bucatini. It offers all the twirling joy of spaghetti but with an additional cranny for the sauce to hang out in. For those who are unfamiliar with it, bucatini is a magical long hollow tube of pasta. Think of it as an elongated KD noodle. The fact that it’s hollow makes it an excellent vessel for carrying the maximum amount of sauce per bite. I tend to use it whenever there is an especially thick sauce involved.
I finished the Mascarpone Butternut Bucatini off with a scattering of roasted almonds. They felt appropriate because they echoed the soft nutty flavor of the squash (they don’t call it “butternut” for nothing) and amped it up a bit. Naturally, I also added a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, because… Wait! Do I even need to explain this?
Yes, it may be riddled with squash and yes, you may have OD-ed on the entire winter squash family over the holidays, but this Mascarpone Butternut Bucatini is nothing like a Pumpkin Spice Latte or a maple-glazed wedge of Acorn. Frankly, it’s more cheese than squash, so you’re fine. Having said that, I feel I should tell you eating this won’t earn you any points in the “healthy New Year’s resolution” column but it will score major points in the “extreme happiness” column!
- 1 butternut squash, split lengthwise & seeds removed
- 450 g uncooked bucatini
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 275 g mascarpone
- 1 cup Parmesan, grated
- 2 tbsp fresh oregano, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup pasta water
- 1/4 cup roasted unsalted almonds, coarsely chopped
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Pierce squash with a fork all over. Place on an well-oiled baking sheet, cut side down. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until soft. Let cool.
- When cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh. Discard the skin and place the squash in a large food processor. Blitz until smooth.
- Cook pasta according to package directions. When done, reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water before draining. Set aside until ready to use.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant. About 2 minutes.
- Deglaze the pan with white wine. Let the wine cook down slightly before adding the squash puree.
- Sauté the squash/garlic mixture until it starts to bubble. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the mascarpone. Once incorporated, take the skillet off the heat and stir in the Parmesan and oregano.
- Season with salt to taste.
- Add the bucatini to the sauce and toss to coat. Taste the dish one more time and add additional salt if needed.
- Garnish with chopped almonds and additional Parmesan cheese.