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pasta with squash, kale, butter sauce and crumb topping 3
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5 from 5 votes

Angel Hair Pasta with Squash and Kale

We're tossing roasted butternut squash, kale, parmesan cheese, lemon, garlic and butter with angel hair pasta. Then sprinkling it with a crunchy pecan-panko-zesty crumb topping. Wonderful flavor combination. Great textures. And big bold colors.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings (change as needed): 3
Author: Cheryl, Two Kooks In The Kitchen

Ingredients

Squash

  • 1 pound (450 grams) cubed butternut squash, 3/4-1 inch (2-2.5 cm) cubes, Note 1 (1 small butternut squash)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or oregano)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and black pepper

Pasta and Kale

  • 6 ounces angel hair pasta (capellini) (or spaghettini or other long pasta)
  • 4 cups loosely packed kale leaves, stems removed and roughly chopped, Note 2 (about 80 grams, 2.75 ounces, 1/2 bunch)

Pecan-panko crumb topping

  • 1/4 cup (27 grams) finely chopped pecans, Note 3
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil (or butter)

Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 3 teaspoons)
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 ounce) finely grated Parmesan cheese (use 1/2 cup if coarsely grated)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup (177 ml) pasta water you may not need it all
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Instructions

  • HEAT OVEN to 425F/218C. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment (or foil sprayed with oil).
  • ROAST SQUASH: Spread butternut squash on baking sheet in single layer. Drizzle on oil, salt, pepper and thyme. Toss to coat evenly (I use my hands). Place in center of the oven and roast for 20-25 minutes, shaking/turning once part way through, until edges are browned.
  • BOIL PASTA AND KALE: While squash is roasting, bring large skillet or pot of water with 2-3 teaspoons salt to boil. Add pasta and kale. Bring to boil and reduce to medium-high heat. Cook for 1 minute less than package instructions to al dente, usually 6-8 minutes total depending on thickness of pasta. Reserve 3/4 cup of pasta water (177 mls). Then drain in colander and set aside.
  • MAKE CRUMB TOPPING: While pasta is boiling, heat a small pan to medium heat. Add pecans and panko. Cook for 3-5 minutes until golden brown, stirring. Stir in lemon zest and oil. Taste and add salt if needed. Set aside.
  • MAKE SAUCE AND FINISH: In same pot or skillet as you boiled pasta, heat to medium heat and melt butter. Stir in garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add 1/2 cup/118ml pasta water, lemon juice and Parmesan cheese. Stir for 30 seconds until smooth. Add rest of the ingredients - cooked pasta, kale, parsley and butternut squash. Toss with tongs to combine well and cook for another 1-2 minutes until sauce is thickened and pasta is heated through. Add more pasta water if needed to get the consistency you like. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more lemon, Parmesan, salt as needed. Transfer to a large bowl and sprinkle with pecan-panko crumbs. Serve immediately.

Notes

  1. Butternut squash:
    • Substitute options: acorn squash, buttercup squash, hubbard squash or delicata squash.
    • Here is a video on how to peel and cut squash. For a shortcut, buy pre-peeled and cubed butternut squash. (I do).
  2. Kale substitutes: chard, baby or regular spinach, collard greens (spring greens in the UK). For a shortcut, buy pre-washed and de-stemmed kale. 
  3. Pecan substitutes: hazelnuts, walnuts. pine nuts or almonds. 
  4. To toast pecan-panko crumbs in oven (instead of on stove): Spread out panko and pecans on a lined pan. Place in 350F/177C oven on upper rack  and bake for 5-7 minutes, tossing half way through, until golden brown. Remove from oven and stir in oil and lemon zest. Set aside. 
  5. Other variations: 
    • Add red pepper flakes or chili flakes for heat
    • Add fresh herbs - thyme, basil, oregano
  6. Make ahead:
    • The best way to eat this pasta recipe is fresh. But there are two things you can make several hours ahead or a day ahead.
      • toasted panko-pecan-zest topping
      • roasted butternut squash (rewarm it in the microwave before tossing with the pasta)
 
Nutrition values are estimates.
Calories: 597kcal | Carbohydrates: 75g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 37mg | Sodium: 700mg | Potassium: 1199mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 25662IU | Vitamin C: 148mg | Calcium: 349mg | Iron: 4mg