I like the idea of having a cheese sauce on hand during the holidays because I can toss together the most lovely mac 'n cheese at a moment's notice, assemble a clever pizza for friends and family, or make a special pan of lasagna to take to a holiday pot luck. In fact, the Butternut Alfredo Sauce below is so good, I tend to make a double batch and use it throughout the holiday season to save time and make things just a bit more festive.
Now, if you don't happen to have butternut squash puree on hand, you can grab a big can (or two smaller ones) of unsweetened pumpkin puree and you'll be good to go. Since many folks stockpile the stuff this time of the year, you don't need to worry about not being able to put together this sauce in minutes.
That said, making butternut squash puree is easy. Simply preheat the oven to 400° F and slice the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Arrange the squash face down on a baking sheet. Roast the squash in the preheated oven until it is tender, about 35 to 45 minutes. Allow the squash to cool and scoop the softened flesh from the shells. Place in a resealable freezer bag and squish with your fingers to create a puree. Press any air out of the bag and seal it. Press the puree flat in the bag, freeze it, and store up to 6 months. When you need puree, break off chunks and thaw it as needed!
Tossing this sauce with pasta is enough to enjoy on its own, though I've been known to toss a few tomatoes and some fresh sage into the mix. When it comes to pizza, this sauce makes a great base topped with chopped sage, crumbled sausage, and some blue cheese. And lasagna gets a seasonal makeover when this sauce takes the place of traditional red sauce. Seasoned greetings!
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups butternut squash or pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Heat the olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and fry it until fragrant and lightly golden. Add the salt and pepper and stir to combine. Add the squash puree, broth, and heavy cream and stir to combine until simmering. Add the cheese a few tablespoons at a time and stir until completely incorporated. Use the sauce tossed with pasta, as a base for homemade pizza, or as a festive layer in lasagna.
- Yields: 6 servings
- Preparation Time: 20 minutes