Are you the type who puts hot sauce on everything? No judgment, just a question. Well, if you are, today’s recipe is for you because this Hot Honeynut Squash comes by its name honestly. But I should say, if you are a heat aficionado, these will not blow your top off. I did not douse these guys in Habenero Inferno Face-Melt 4000 sauce. No, instead I opted for the mild, mellow classic – Frank’s. And why did I do that? I did it for the vinegar.
Yes, I love hot wings. I adore the thrill of eating something that is borderline too hot and seeing if I can handle it. I tend to think of this activity as something seperate from general eating. More of a novel, thrill-seeking experience, like a low-rent rollercoaster. But most of the time, I like my spice to make sense. It should be woven into the fabric of the dish, not an annoying high note that drowns everything else out. On the other hand, I have little sense of balance when it comes to tart, vinegary flavors, which is why I like Frank’s Hot Sauce.
Now, before you accuse this of being a sponsored post, I want to assure you it is not. I also want to clarify that I am not a Frank’s superfan. I have many a hot sauce in my fridge and that’s because I believe they all have their roles to play. The concept of a favorite hot sauce is kind of lost on me. The hot sauce you shake onto a roti should be different than the one you deploy on a taco. It just should. So when it comes to Frank’s, context is everything.
Frank’s is my go-to for french fries, non-artisanal pizza, chicken wings, and now, I suppose, honeynut squash. And, unlike the other hot sauces in my collection, I don’t reach for Frank’s for the heat, I reach for it as I would malt vinegar. Frank’s just has that astringency that plays so well with mellow, sweet flavors. It takes the admittedly mundane foods of my youth and gives them a little sparkle and interest. My nostalgia may still want deluxe pizza but the grownup in me knows the crust is cardboard – that’s what Frank’s is for.
In the case of today’s Hot Honeynut Squash, I was keen to take the sweet of this micro-squash and create a sweet and sour situation with the help of Frank’s. So I whipped up a classic wing sauce in the form of melted butter, honey, and of course, Frank’s and slathered it on the squash. After roasting it to fork-tender, the vinegar had all but baked off, resulting in a buttery, sweet, and vaguely hot squash that I liked but didn’t love.
The simple solution to this was to make the recipe the same way again, but this time retain some of the hot sauce mixture for a second post-oven swabbing. This reintroduced the vinegar hit I was missing and brought a little extra heat as well. If you want to amp up the heat, feel free to add scotch bonnet ribbons or thinly sliced red chilies to the hot sauce mixture. I did add crushed red pepper flakes to the butter, which did bring up the heat a little but I think fresh chilies would do a better job, I was just fresh out. You can, of course, omit any and all chilies from your honeynut squash if heat is not your thing. But before I continue on, we should probably cover what the heck a honeynut squash is.
Have you come across a honeynut squash yet? Don’t feel bad if you haven’t, they’re only 11 years old after all. And if you’re thinking Cheerios, I’m going to go out on a limb and say, you don’t yet know about the honeynut squash. Well, the honeynut squash is, as I mentioned, a recent addition to the squash family. It is essentially a tiny butternut squash but with a sweeter, more concentrated flavor. And because they are sweeter, honeynuts caramelize much more readily than their hulking cousins.
Another improvement? The texture. Honeynuts have a creamier, less watery texture than the butternut. Think somewhere between an acorn and a buttercup squash – a personal favorite of mine. Their wee size and thinner skin make the honeynut easier than most to open. Always a plus when you’re less than handy with a knife and aren’t in the market for pre-cubed squash. Halving a squash should not be reserved for cleaver-owning individuals.
So we’ve covered the hot and the honeynut but we haven’t touched the bucatini. We all know that nothing pairs with hot wings like a creamy cooling dip. That dip was more or less my inspiration for this pasta. Instead of leaning into the likes of ranch or blue cheese, I dressed things up a bit by coating the bucatini in whipped ricotta, which sounds fancy af. I added to the ricotta’s cooling effect with a large dollop of Greek yogurt and accented the sauce with the fresh flavors of lemon and parsley. The result is a pasta that pairs beautifully with the Hot Honeynut Squash.
So that’s everything you need to know about this Hot Honeynut Squash with Whipped Ricotta Bucatini. Just think about this dish as hot wings and dip dressed up for a date.
Hot Honeynut Squash with Whipped Ricotta Bucatini
- Large, deep skillet
- Food Processor
Hot Honeynut Squash
- 2 honeynut squashes halved, seed removed
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- 1-2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ cup Frank's hot sauce
- 2 tbsp honey
- ½ tsp Maldon smoked salt for sprinkling
Whipped Ricotta Bucatini
- 1 cup ricotta heaping
- ¼ cup + 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp salt
- 454g (1 lb) uncooked bucatini
- 3 shallots halved, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 lemon juiced
- ½ cup parmesan shredded
- ¼ cup Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup fresh parsley finely chopped
For the Squash
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet with olive oil.
- Place the squash cut-side-up on the baking sheet. Drizzle both halves evenly with the olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Set aside.
- Place the butter in a small saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Once the butter has melted, stir in the crushed red pepper flakes and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Take the butter off of the heat and stir in the hot sauce and honey.
- Using a pastry brush, coat the squash with half of the hot sauce mixture before transferring to the oven. Roast the squash for 40 minutes or until fork tender.
- Take the squash out of the oven and once again slather it with the remaining hot sauce mixture. Keep the squash warm until ready to serve.
For the Bucatini
- Place the ricotta in a food processor and blitz. Once the ricotta is nearly smooth, keep the food processor running and slowly stream in a ¼ cup of olive oil. Add the salt and blitz until the ricotta reaches a creamy consistency. Transfer the ricotta to a bowl. Cover and set aside.
- Place a large pot of water on to boil. Once boiling, liberally salt the water and add the pasta. Cook according to the package's directions. Once done, drain the pasta, retaining a cup of the cooking liquid, and set aside.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat the remaining olive oil in a large, deep skillet until shimmering. Add the shallots and a pinch of salt and saute over low heat until just translucent. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds more.
- Deglaze the pan with the lemon juice and add the pasta. Stir in the ricotta mixture, parmesan cheese, and enough pasta water to create a sauce. Toss to coat. Take the pasta off of the heat and stir in the yogurt and parsley. Taste and season with salt accordingly.
- Once ready to serve, place a pat of butter in the bowl of each hot squash half and set them aside to melt slightly. Divide the pasta into four servings. Perch the squash halves on top of the pasta and sprinkle them with smoked salt. Garnish with additional shredded parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.