What is it about nuts that go so wonderfully with pumpkin and butternut squash dishes? Walnuts, pecans, and hazelnuts just pair so nicely with the flavors of squash. When I first received Buitoni‘s Butternut Squash Agnolotti, I knew I wanted to make a hazelnut cream sauce with it. Hazelnuts, like most nuts, taste significantly better when toasted. I have no idea why this is, but I feel the need to always heat nuts for a little while to increase the flavor.
- 1 package of Buitoni’s Butternut Squash Agnolotti
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts, blanched
- 1 stick of butter
- 1/4 cup sweet vermouth
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- a pinch each of ginger, allspice, and nutmeg (1/8 teaspoon or less)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Sage leaves, for garnish
Begin by bringing a pot of water to a boil. While waiting for the pot to boil, add the blanched hazelnuts to a oven-safe pan and roast at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. (If you can’t find blanched hazelnuts, you have a bit more work ahead of you. Cook the hazelnuts as directed above, at 350 for 10 minutes. Using a paper towel or a cloth towel, take a few hazelnuts at a time and rub them back and forth within the towel to remove the dark brown layer. Now you’re good to go!)
Roughly chop the hazelnuts. I personally prefer to add the hazelnuts to a food processor for a quick whir. You then end up with some very finely chopped hazelnuts (almost a powder) and some that are in different states of being chopped. The powder helps to actually thicken up the sauce later, while giving a really nice hazelnut flavor throughout the sauce.
When your pot of water is boiling, add the pasta and cook according to directions. Drain and set aside.
Melt the butter in a large saute pan. Add the chopped hazelnuts and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the vermouth. It will bubble up a bit. Cook for another minute or two.
Add the cream and cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and nutmeg. Using a whisk, stir the mixture until the vermouth, butter, and cream, are well blended. Season with salt and pepper.
|this is before I whisked it|
Add the agnolotti and mix to coat. Cook for another 1 to 2 minutes.
If you want a really creamy sauce, feel free to add some grated Parmesan cheese. I honestly don’t think you need it though. To serve, spoon more of the sauce over the pasta and top with fresh sage.
The sauce is smooth and creamy. The hazelnuts add a depth to the dish which I love and the crunch of the hazelnuts added a nice texture to the meal. The sage helped bring a freshness to this dish. Despite the ingredients, I really didn’t find this to be a heavy meal at all. I really liked it!