As soon as the leaves start bursting into full color, I start seeking out winter squash. At most farmers markets you’ll see an abundance of winter squash of all colors and varieties. Just remember that the big pumpkins are better for carving and the smaller pie pumpkins are the ones you want to cook with.
This pasta sauce will work with butternut, pumpkin, red kuri, or really just about any thick-fleshed winter squash you happen to have on hand.
If you don’t live in an area where it’s easy to buy liquid smoke, you can use smoked salt, smoked paprika, or even a pinch of chipotle powder. The smoky flavor and the balsamic really elevate this extremely simple dish.
Tip: Hate trying to carve a giant winter squash? Worry about cutting yourself? Some winter squash are huge and cutting them can be intimidating. Next time try softening it up in the oven first. Poke holes in your squash, place on a cookie sheet, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes at 375 degrees. Take it out and let it cool enough that you can touch it. You should be able to slice through it much easier.
Smoky Red Kuri Pasta Sauce with Sage
- 2 cups red kuri, peeled seeded and chopped (or other winter squash you have on hand)
- 1 tablespoon Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base (or other vegan chick’n base)
- 3 to 4 cups water
- 2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried sage)
- a few drops to ¼ teaspoon liquid smoke, to taste
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- cooked pasta, for serving
- In a saucepan with a lid, add the prepared squash, bouillon, and add enough water to completely cover the squash. The amount of water needed will vary on the size of pan you choose to use.
- Cook with lid on over medium heat for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until you can pierce the squash easily with a fork.
- Remove the lid and turn the heat to medium high. Add the sage and mash the squash with a wooden spoon as you stir. Cook down until the extra water has evaporated and it is a thick sauce. (If it was almost cooked dry in step 2, add ½ to 1 cup extra water, then mash.)
- Add the liquid smoke, vinegar, and salt and pepper. Taste and add more salt, pepper, or sage if it doesn’t make you happy yet.
- Serve over cooked pasta.