I recently discovered Delicata squash in my local co-op. I was looking for a nice winter squash and this petite version caught my eye. I should admit that I fell in love with them because they were just plain adorable! So I bought two: a slightly longer (approx 6 inches), orange-toned squash and a shorter (approx 3 inches) green-toned one. I used the orange Delicata for this recipe.
I love a fresh homemade tomato sauce, but let’s face the reality: tomatoes are not in season. Tomatoes grow best during spring and summer for a reason: they are light, water-based, sweet and perfect for summertime eating. In midst of all this snow, hail and the infamous winter-y mix, I want a creamy and comforting sauce, with plenty of natural flavor.
Being the Francophile that I am, I do like some dishes containing heavy cream and must admit that the occasional café crème did keep me toasty in Paris; however, I feel that an actual cream sauce on pasta overshadows all other flavors in the dish. The dish becomes too heavy, bland on the taste buds and stressful on the digestive system. In my opinion a creamy sauce should be light in weight and bring forth the other flavors in the dish.
The Delicata squash sauce brought a lovely light-creamy texture to the dish. Its’ mild yet sweet, nutty taste did not upstage the pasta nor the broccoli; in addition, its light weight did not add any heaviness to the dish nor to my digestive system. This dish has a soothing natural, wholesome taste that just makes you feel good inside. Bon app!
Quinoa Pasta and Broccoli with Creamy Delicata Squash Sauce (Vegan!)
Makes about ¾ c sauce
2 oz./person (approx. 60g/person) Quinoa pasta (I used the Ancient Harvest brand that I find in my supermarket. If yours does not carry quinoa pasta, you can use another variety of a bean pasta, such as lentil or soybean pasta)
½ c broccoli/person
1c Delicata squash (skinned, seeds removed and cubed)
1/8 c red onion (chopped)
½-3/4 garlic clove (chopped)
2 tbsp + 2tsp olive oil
2 large basil leaves
Pinch of lemon grass (if you have it)
Salt and pepper
**Note: If you can’t find Delicata squash in the market, you can use an acorn squash instead**
In a large pot bring water to a boil and cook the squash cubes for 10 min or until soft (just before they start to get mushy). Drain and set aside.
In a pan heat 2 tsp olive oil over low heat for about 2 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and onions and heat over medium heat for 5 min. Please note that the longer you cook the garlic and onions, the more they lose their flavor. I like my sauces garlicky; therefore, I used ¾ of a garlic clove and cooked it only 2 minutes in the oil. If you like a more subtle garlic taste, you can use ½ of a clove and cook it for 5 min. If you love garlic you can just chop it up and throw it directly in the food processor. When you are done save this pan; you’ll use it to sauté the broccoli!
After the garlic and onion are finished cooking combine the contents in the pan (including the oil), squash, basil leaves, 2 tbsp olive oil and lemon grass in the food processor and process until smooth. The lemon grass will not make or break the dish, but I think a hint of lemon flavor does this sauce well. You could add either a drop of lemon juice or a very small amount of lemon zest in its place. Transfer the sauce to a pot to reheat and add salt and pepper.
Meanwhile bring two pots of water to a boil: one for the quinoa pasta, the other for the broccoli. Cook the quinoa pasta about 10-12 minutes and the broccoli only 3-5 minutes, depending on how firm you like your vegetables.
Drain the broccoli and transfer to the pan where the garlic, onions and oil once were and sauté over medium heat for 5 min until golden brown. The oil that was left behind in the pan will be enough to coat the broccoli.
Lastly, combine the quinoa pasta and broccoli then toss with the Delicata squash sauce. Add a sprinkling of parmesan cheese and serve!