This pasta dish is full of many of my favorite fall flavors, especially the classic trio of butternut squash, sage and goat cheese. Along with the sausage, it makes a tasty, seasonal pasta dish, similar in flavor to my butternut squash, goat cheese and sausage lasagna, although far faster and easier to prepare.
Because the pasta is going to be cooked twice--first in the boiling water and then stirred into the sauce--be sure to not cook it past the al dente point where it is quite chewy. In fact, you might want to stop a notch shy of al dente if you like a firmer pasta (like I generally do).
Penne with Sausage, Goat Cheese, Sage and Butternut Squash
1 lb. penne rigate pasta
1/2 lb. mild Italian chicken sausage (uncooked)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, diced
1 lb. of butternut squash cut into 1/2-inch cubes (squash should have been previously peeled and seeded)
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp. fresh sage, chopped
Pinch of ground nutmeg
4 oz. chèvre goat cheese, cut into small chunks
Grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1. Heat a large pot of salted water over high heat until boiling. Add pasta and cook according to package directions for al dente (cooked through but still chewy). Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water. Drain pasta and set aside.
2. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Remove sausage from casings and add to pan. Cook, breaking up with a spoon, until cooked through and lightly browned. Remove sausage from pan and transfer to a cutting board. Chop until finely minced.
3. Increase the heat under the sauté pan to medium-high. Add the olive oil, butter and onion. Cook until the onion softens, then add the butternut squash and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions and squash are soft and lightly browned in places, about 12-15 minutes. Stir in the sage and nutmeg, then add the cooked pasta and sausage. Cook, about 1-2 minutes until fragrant and the sausage in reheated. Remove from the heat. Add the reserved pasta cooking water and chunks of goat cheese and stir to combine (the residual heat will melt the cheese). Serve in shallow bowls with topped grated parmesan.