Penne with Caramelized Onions and Winter Squash

Another delicious recipe from The Complete Root Cellar Book, by Steve Maxwell and Jennifer MacKenzie.

September 2, 2011

Braiding the stalks of onions before storage not only looks attractive but helps promote air circulation around the bulbs, which keeps them dry, preventing mold and spoilage. Large winter squash with thick skins keep better than smaller varieties or those with thinner skins. Use thin-skinned and smaller squash for this recipe in late fall or early winter. This is a nice change from a traditional tomato sauce for pasta. It sings of the flavors of the harvest. Serve a crispy salad with creamy dressing on the side.

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 onions, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small winter squash, cut into cubes (about 4 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1⁄4 cup dry white wine
  • 12 ounces penne, cavatappi or gemelli pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

1. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions, sugar, salt, and pepper; sauté for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring often, for about 15 minutes or until the onions start to turn golden. Stir in the squash and sage. Increase the heat to medium-high and boil, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until the onions are caramelized and the squash is almost tender.


2. Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta for about 9 minutes or until tender but firm. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot.

3. Add the wine to the skillet and boil, scraping up any brown bits stuck to the pan. Pour over the pasta in the pot. Add the oil and toss gently to coat, adding just enough of the reserved cooking liquid to moisten to desired consistency. Season to taste with more salt and pepper, as needed.

Makes 9 cups (4 servings)

Tip: Butternut squash is the easiest squash to peel and cut into cubes; however, any hard winter squash works nicely in this dish. If you find the squash tricky to peel, cut it into chunks or wedges and microwave for 1 to 2 minutes, or place in a 350°F oven for about 5 minutes, to soften the skin.