Sausage, squash and sage pasta bake

Pasta has to be one of the most used ingredients in the average household however what you do with it needn’t be average. Butternut squash has to be one of my favourite autumn vegetables and it brings an appealing flash of colour to any dish. Fresh sage must be used here as the flavour of dried sage is too harsh with the delicate flavours of the squash and cheeses.

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Ingredients: serves 4  (can be halved for 2)
1 butternut squash
2 tbsp olive oil
Handful of fresh sage roughly chopped
8 seasoned pork sausages
Pinch of nutmeg
350g rigatoni or conchiglioni
50g unsalted butter
50g plain flour
850ml milk
50g parmesan
Small ball of mozzarella chopped
Drizzle of truffle oil (optional)

1. Get cracking on the squash by peeling and deseeding it. With a sturdy knife, cut the squash into small cubes and place in a microwaveable dish with a tablespoon of water. Pop it in the microwave on a high heat for approximately 10 minutes or until tender.

2. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan and cook the sage leave for 1 minute until fragrant. Pop the sausages out of their skins and roll gently into balls which are the size of hazelnuts. Add these to the pan with the sage and cook until golden.

3. Add half of the squash to the sausages. Take the remaining squash and mash with a pinch of nutmeg and season with salt and pepper before setting aside.

4. Heat the oven to 200c/ 180fan and cook the pasta according to the packet. Rigatoni works well with the sausage but conchiglioni also works well as the sauce fills the shells so choose whichever you prefer. Whilst the pasta simmers, take a saucepan and melt the butter before adding the flour and keep it moving until it forms a base. Carefully and slowly add in the milk and continue to stir to avoid any lumps forming. Next add the mashed squash, parmesan and more seasoning.

5. Take a large baking dish and layer the left over squash over the bottom. Drain the pasta and stir through the sausage and cheese sauce. Grate over the parmesan and dot on the chunks of mozzarella before baking for 30 minutes until golden and bubbling. You may also drizzle over a little truffle oil before baking to give it an extra richness.

An indulgent pasta to warm up a chilly Autumn day!

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