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Squash-sausage pasta perfect for cold evenings

Building on the squash and sausage theme from the previous post is this hearty pasta dish.

Perfect for cold evenings still on the horizon, this recipe from the Chicago Tribune also utilizes the variety of hard-shell squash still stocked in supermarkets. In hues of yellow, orange, red and green and shades in between, the varieties in grocers’ displays remind me that I haven’t had my fill of this wintertime staple whose time is drawing short.

The popularity of peeled and diced butternut squash, as well as its widespread availability year-round, makes this pasta an anytime kind of dish, however. And while butternut squash is among the easiest varieties to break down, the original recipe also suggested sugar pumpkin, which is far more seasonal.

Squash, Sausage and Sage Ragu Over Pappardelle

2 to 3 generous cups diced peeled fresh butternut squash, 12 to 16 ounces

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

1 pound bulk pork sausage with sage, or bulk mild or hot Italian sausage

1/2 large white onion, peeled and diced

1 cup diced mushrooms

1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juices

2 large cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

1/2 teaspoon dried poultry seasoning

Freshly ground pepper

1 (8.8-ounce) package egg pappardelle or tagliatelle pasta (or egg noodles)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or chives

1 tablespoon very finely sliced fresh sage leaves

Shredded Parmesan, for serving

Heat oven to 450 F. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the squash cubes with the olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt. Roast in preheated oven, stirring once or twice, until tender and golden, for about 15 minutes. Remove from oven. (Refrigerate covered up to several days; reheat before using.)

Meanwhile, combine the sausage, onion and mushrooms in large, nonstick skillet. Cook over medium-high heat (use a splatter guard) stirring and chopping up sausage with a spatula until meat is thoroughly cooked and golden, for about 10 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes, garlic and poultry seasoning. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until thickened, for about 10 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper. (Mixture can be made up to 2 days in advance; refrigerate covered and reheat before using.)

Heat a large kettle of generously salted water over high heat to boil. Add the pasta. Cook, stirring often, until al dente, for 5 to 7 minutes. Drain pasta.

Add drained pasta to skillet with meat. Toss to coat. Add the roasted squash, parsley, and fresh sage leaves. Toss.

Serve with the Parmesan. Makes 4 servings.

Tribune News Service photo