My default swap for pasta has always been zucchini noodles. Same goes for this Butternut Squash Alfredo sauce! As I was preparing this meal however, I was watching part of the Cooked series on Netflix. This episode happened to feature Dan Barber, executive chef of Stone Hill Barn and author of one of my favorite books, The Third Plate. Barber is so clearly passionate about fresh, local, properly farmed food, and believes that the greatest flavor can only be achieved by sourcing the best ingredients.
It reminded me of something I read once in the Flavor Bible regarding recipe development and putting flavors together -- “What grows together, goes together”. Ingredients that are in season at the same time naturally taste good together. Thank you Mother Nature!
It occurred to me that the delicious meal I was planning had one major issue with it -- it featured both a summer squash and a winter squash! Zucchini and butternut squash are simply not in season at the same time. While both are available in grocery stores year round, they maybe should not necessarily be featured in a recipe together. All of a sudden, my zucchini started to look a little sadder, and my butternut squash a little more robust and flavorful.
How could I swap out zucchini noodles for something more seasonal? Spaghetti squash seemed an obvious pick, but paired with Butternut Squash Alfredo would have been too starchy. I looked up many different types of noodles I could make with the spiralizer (Inspiralized has a bunch of great ideas!). I cross-compared some of these noodles with a list of November seasonal vegetables. A-ha! Broccoli! There were several instances where bloggers had used broccoli stems to make noodles in the spiralizer, AND broccoli is in season in November. I ran over to the produce stand around the corner, and staring me right in the face were HUGE, BEAUTIFUL broccoli stems, fresh from Long Island. I happily purchased a small bunch for less than a dollar (another perk of shopping in season!) and went back to the apartment to experiment.
I cut off the florets and saved for later roasting. I peeled the broccoli stem with a peeler to remove some of the rough outer edging. Now for the moment of truth, spiralizing… it totally failed! My broccoli stem was way too tough. I thought I was going to break the spiralizer! After a few minutes, I gave up. I threw the broccoli stem into my vegetable scrap collection bag I keep in the freezer (for bone broth!) and returned to my out-of-season but easy-to-spiralize zucchini noodles. If you have any experience spiralizing broccoli stems, please comment with tips! I maybe wasn’t successful this time around, but I haven’t given up… I wonder if I could partially steam the broccoli stem first?!
So I ate this Butternut Squash Alfredo over zucchini noodles with a roasted chicken thigh. The following day, I stirred some of the leftover sauce into a chicken vegetable soup I had made. The soup was SO thick and lovely, with a really sweet, warm flavor. This sauce is very diverse! Could make a hearty layer in a lasagna or coat some pulled beef enchiladas really nicely. Let me know how you get creative with this versatile recipe!
Butternut Squash Alfredo
Creamy, sweet, and nutritious, this seasonal sauce is a comforting go-to for when the temperature drops. The flavors are simple but delicious. Try to use fresh rosemary if you can for extra woodiness! Leftover rosemary can be used to make a cleansing, aromatic herbal tea.
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
Salt and pepper
½ stick butter
1 small white onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 cup bone broth
1 cup coconut milk
¼ cup nutritional yeast
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread butternut squash cubes among 2 roasting sheets. Toss with liberal amounts of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast until the largest cubes are easily pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes.
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add onions, garlic, and rosemary. Cook until aromatics are translucent and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Transfer vegetables to a blender. Add bone broth, coconut milk, butternut squash, and nutritional yeast. Blend until smooth.