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and pine nuts. Because when are pine nuts not a bonus?

This is a special meal you can have anytime if you have the make-ahead components ready. The noodles, sage brown butter, and caramelized onions can all be prepared in advance (you can even cut and freeze the squash beforehand), and store-bought noodles work well too.

You will need:
1 medium butternut squash, cubed and peeled (you can do this part ahead and freeze up to a month).
1 pound fresh pappardelle (recipe) or dried noodles
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tsp salt (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup caramelized onions (recipe)
Sage brown butter (recipe)
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 475°.
2. Combine squash (raw or frozen, no need to thaw if frozen), sugar, 1 tablespoon oil, salt and pepper in a roasting pan and toss well. Bake at 475° for 20 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and stir in 1/2 cup caramelized onions

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3. Cook pasta in rapidly boiling salted water (only takes 2-3 minutes if using fresh pasta; follow package directions for dried pasta). Drain.
4. Place cooked pasta in a bowl, add remaining 1 tablespoon oil; toss well.
5. Serve pasta immediately, topped with squash mixture, sage brown butter, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese.

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The one thing that is decidedly not quick about this recipe is caramelizing the onions. Anyone who tells you it can be done in less than an hour is lying and the best time to caramelize onions is actually yesterday. However, I have found that I can caramelize 2 pounds of onions at a time and refrigerate the resulting cup and a half of the stuff to add to dishes for up to three weeks.

Caramelized Onions (adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian)
1 1/2 to 2 lbs onions, halved and thinly sliced or chopped (5 to 6 cups)
3 large shallots, halved
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus more as needed
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper

1. If possible, open some windows in your kitchen.
2. Put the onions in a large skillet over medium heat. Cover and cook, stirring infrequently, until the onions are dry and almost sticking to the pan, about 20 minutes.
3. Stir in the oil and turn the heat down to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are done as you like them, adding just enough more oil to keep them from sticking without getting greasy.
4. Keep doing this for about two hours. That’s right. Two. Few people will give it to you straight like this.
5. Taste and add pepper and more salt if necessary.

Sage Brown Butter
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
4-5 fresh sage leaves, chopped coarsely
salt

Once you taste this, you’ll want to keep some on hand at all times.
1. Melt butter in a small saucepan on medium-low heat.
3. Add sage and increase head to medium.
4. Stir constantly until butter is almost dark brown with a nutty aroma and pour into a small bowl. It will turn a lovely dark brown while you are pouring it.
5. Add salt to taste and stir. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three months.

Pappardelle
3/4 cup semolina flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Mix ingredients together in food processor or by hand until elastic. It will be a stiff dough. Roll out in pasta roller to the second or third-thinnest setting. Cut into ribbons about 3/4″ wide and 6″ long and set aside on floured layers of wax paper, sprinkling flour over each layer. You can use them immediately or freeze in the wax paper and store in a freezer bag for up to a month.

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