I’m having a bit of a seasonal identity crisis right now. The calendar says that it’s the first day of Spring, but there have been snow flurries blowing all day today, and I’m still cooking wintery dishes! We’ve had a couple of random warm, sunny days this month, but it just feels like Mother Nature is having a laugh at our expense. So is it Winter? Or Spring? Do we go by the official calendar designation, or the weather?
I’m hopeful that soon Ohio will settle on a season – as much as it ever does, that is! But until the weather outside starts to feel like spring, I decided to go for a new, bright background. I thought the green lettuce was pretty, and with the name of the blog, it made sense. Let me know what you think of the new look!
Early March in Ohio – garlic shoots poking up through the snow!
So since the weather still doesn’t feel very Springy, I’m in the mood for comfort food. And after my Fall CSA, one of my go-to comfort foods is squash. Who knew? Before I started my CSA, I would never have guessed how much I loved squash. Now it’s a bit of an obsession. Bear with me, folks – I know that I’ve posted a lot of butternut squash recipes on this blog in the past year, but of all of them, this may just be my favorite.
Or it’s possible that my favorite recipe is always the one I just made (or just ate).
Crispy prosciutto – so pretty!
The addition of the spinach and salty prosciutto (leftover from pizza making) to this pasta dish really brightened the flavor of the butternut squash. After I ate this, I was warm and happy, but not weighed down like pasta can do sometimes. It was a light butternut squash pasta, which was a really nice surprise!
As I was writing this out, I realized that it looks like a complicated recipe. I promise you that it isn’t! It did take some time to cook the squash, but if you had frozen cooked squash from earlier in the year, you could easily use that and make this much faster. It took me about 1 hour, 15 minutes from start to eat.
Pasta with Spinach and Butternut Squash
- 2 lbs butternut squash, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 2 cups chicken stock, plus a splash for the spinach
- about 1/4 cup heavy cream (optional – I had it on hand, so I added a splash or two.)
- 2 double handfuls of baby spinach (Sorry I don’t have a more precise measurement! Use as much or as little as you want.)
- 1/2 white onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
- olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- dried Sage (about 1/4 teaspoon)
- 1 lb Penne pasta (or whatever shape you have on hand)
- 2-3 slices prosciutto (optional – for garnish)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cube the butternut squash and toss with a splash of olive oil, salt, pepper and sage. Transfer the coated cubes to a baking sheet and bake until caramelized and soft, about 45 minutes. Toss the squash several times while it’s cooking.
If you’re using the prosciutto, lay the slices out on a Silpat on a baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes, until crispy. Remove from oven, crumble or rough chop and set aside for a garnish.
While the squash cooks, start the water for the pasta. Next, heat a flat sided sauté pan (I think that’s what it’s called) over medium heat. Add a teaspoon or two of olive oil, the garlic and onion and cook until the onion is slightly translucent. Add a splash of chicken stock and the spinach, and cover until the spinach wilts.
By now, the squash should be done. Reserve about a cup of roasted squash pieces to add to the sauce at the end (for texture, and because they’re pretty). Put the rest of the squash cubes in a blender with 2 cups of chicken stock and the heavy cream, if you’re using it. (If you like a thicker sauce, start with less stock and do what feels right.) Blend the squash until smooth.
I wanted to roast the squash to get that rich taste – so yummy!
Add the blended squash to the pan of cooked spinach and stir together. Admire the swirls of green throughout the bright orange squash sauce. Take a picture, if you like.
At this point, your water should be boiling. Cook the pasta according to package directions. While the pasta cooks, add the Parmesan cheese to the spinach and squash sauce. Stir. Keep the sauce warm over low heat until the pasta is done.
Drain the pasta and add to the sauce. Stir. Remove from heat.
Top the pasta with crumbled prosciutto and a little bit of cheese, if desired. This made easily six servings, but it works great for leftovers (I made this last night, and ate it for lunch again today). As you know, anything that I will willingly eat leftovers from is a good dish!
This post is linked to What’s in the Box? at In Her Chucks.
What do you think of the new look? What’s your go-to comfort food for cold weather?