Vegan Saffron & Butternut Squash Pasta with Fried Mint & Pine Nuts

All About the Veg! is a bi-weekly recipe column in which Best of Vegan contributor Seiran Sinjari breaks down one amazing plant at a time. In today’s column, she’s celebrating the changing seasons and exploring fall’s signature vegetable – butternut squash. Her recipe for Vegan Saffron & Butternut Squash Pasta with Fried Mint & Pine Nuts is a perfect fall equinox meal!

Today is the fall equinox, the official change of seasons. So of course we’re celebrating this first day of fall with a fall-themed recipe, starring the butternut squash! One of my favorite winter squashes, just looking at it gets me into cozy-fall-cooking-mood.

The butternut squash, with its deep orange color on the inside, has a sweet and slightly nutty flavor. It works perfect for savory foods, you can do anything from roasting it to steaming or boiling and puréeing it. But it’s also great for baking sweet pies, muffins, loaves, or even cookies.

Vegan Saffron & Butternut Squash Pasta with Fried Mint & Pine Nuts

As the weather is starting to shift we’re craving more warming and cozy meals on our plates. This Saffron & Butternut Squash Pasta with Fried Mint & Pine Nuts is like a warming hug, not only in flavor and texture but also in the bright orange color! To bring out the sweetness and give it some deeper notes, we’re first roasting the squash (with some garlic and shallots, of course!) and then blend it to make the creamy pasta sauce. Just a hint of saffron works really well with the sweetness and adds an extra subtitle layer of flavor. With all that creaminess we need some crunchy and chewy elements too, that’s when we top it with some fried mint leaves, crunchy pine nuts, and chewy golden raisins.

Vegan Saffron & Butternut Squash Pasta with Fried Mint & Pine Nuts

And I’ll let you in on a secret, if you want, you can even skip the pasta, make a double batch and serve it as a soup with some rustic bread instead. How good is that? A two-in-one recipe!

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Vegan Saffron & Butternut Squash Pasta with Fried Mint & Pine Nuts

Vegan Saffron & Butternut Squash Pasta with Fried Mint & Pine Nuts


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 medium to small butternut squash
  • 2 shallots
  • 23 garlic cloves, with peels
  • ½ tsp saffron threads + 3 tbsp hot water
  • 200 ml vegetable stock
  • 200 ml vegan cream for cooking / heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp grated vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast
  • ½ tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 500 g dry pasta

For topping:

  • 1620 fresh mint leaves, rinsed and pat-dried (optional)
  • 50 g raw pine nuts
  • 1 handful golden raisins
  • 1 tbsp vegan butter
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Grated vegan parmesan (optional)
  • Oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF. 
  2. Place saffron threads in a small bowl with the hot water, set to the side.
  3. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and deseed using a spoon or ice cream scoop (you can reserve the seeds for later and roast in a pan with some oil and spices). Cut shallots in half too, leaving the peel on. Brush the cut sides of the squash and shallots with olive oil and season with salt and pepper before placing them with cut sides down on an oven tray along with the garlic cloves.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes or until tender. Remove garlic gloves after 20-30 minutes if they feel soft and starting to brown.
  5. Cook pasta in salted water in accordance with package instructions and reserve 250-300 ml of the cooking water before draining.
  6. Remove peels from garlic and shallots, scoop out the flesh from the squash halves (or cut the halves in smaller pieces if the skin is tender since it’s edible too), place everything in a blender, add vegetable stock, cream, vegan parmesan, or nutritional yeast, apple cider vinegar, and saffron threads with the soaking water. Blend until creamy and taste before adding salt & pepper.
  7. Place the sauce in a pan and keep warm over low heat until it’s time to serve, adjust texture before serving, please see below.
  8. Add 1 tbsp butter to a pan over medium heat, when the butter has melted, add pine nuts, stir frequently until they start to get golden brown, add raisins and stir for 30 seconds then remove everything from the pan and set to the side.
  9. Place the pan over medium heat again, cover the bottom of the pan with oil, when the oil is hot, add the mint leaves (using tongs) in small batches and fry just for a few seconds on each side then immediately remove from the pan and place on paper towels. The leaves should get crispy but still stay green, as soon as they turn just a little brown they will turn bitter.
  10. Adjust the texture of the sauce by adding some of the pasta water, just a little at a time then mix with the pasta. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper if needed.
  11. Plate the pasta and top with pine nuts and raisins, fried mint leaves, vegan parmesan, and freshly cracked black pepper.

Notes

Find more of Seiran’s recipes at @legallyplantbased.

Recipe, text, and photography by Seiran Sinjari.

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