Tag Archives: pasta

Pasta with Spinach and Butternut Squash

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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!

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!

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.

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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.

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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!

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.

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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.

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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!

Yum!

Yum!

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? 

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Pasta with Sausage and Spinach

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Tonight I had a hankering for sausage and greens. It just sounded warm and comforting and yummy, you know?

So I stopped at one of my favorite stores after work – Kreigers.  I picked up some ground pork, baby spinach and a new spice blend and threw together this pasta dish.

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I admit it – I really bought it because of the label.

I’m always happy when a no-recipe dish turns out well, and this was quite tasty. Pasta and The West Wing on DVD…nothin’ better on a Wednesday night!

I started by browning a pound of ground pork in a large skillet (at the same time, I started the water for the pasta). I added a few tablespoons of flour and some of the Rowdy Kitty Rub to the pork.

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Once the pork started to brown, I added a sliced red onion and three big cloves of garlic, sliced.  I added some salt, and keep on cooking.

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I thought this was a pretty picture.

After the onions and garlic started to get soft, I added about a cup of chicken broth and turned the heat up to high to reduce it.

I let the sausage mixture thicken up, then turned the heat to low, stirred in a handful of grated parmesean cheese and added two big handfuls of baby spinach. I covered the skillet and let the spinach wilt.

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By now, the pasta water was boiling, so I cooked some black pepper pasta while I waited for the sausage and spinach mixture to be done.

To counteract the dark, cloudy skies, I plated the pasta on a sunny yellow plate and topped it with some chopped fresh mozzerella (I love cheese). Good stuff! Plus, the leftover sausage/spinach seems like it might be good on a pizza…

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Yum!

Winter Spaghetti Sauce

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Driving home from work last night in the cold, snowy Ohio twilight, I started to crave spaghetti sauce. So I dug through the pantry and put together my version of my Mom’s marinara sauce.

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Pantry ingredients (plus onion and garlic)

I think of this as a winter sauce because one, that’s really the only time I want to make it, and two, it can be made almost entirely with ingredients from the cupboards and freezer.

It always starts with a beef roast of some kind – I happened to have a pot roast in the freezer. I defrosted the roast a little in the microwave, salted and peppered it, then browned it with some olive oil in a big, heavy pot.

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Roast and some chopped onions and garlic.

I removed the roast from the pan and turned down the heat. I added a bit more olive oil and the garlic (3 big cloves) and onion (1/2 a big onion) finely chopped.

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I added a palmful of italian seasoning and let it saute until the onions were soft and translucent. At this point, you could add a slug of red wine to deglaze the pan, but I didn’t have any handy. (Amazing, right?)

I added two big cans of tomato sauce to deglaze, then added two cans of crushed tomatoes. I use whatever I have on hand – crushed, diced, Mom sometimes uses whole tomatoes and does a quick spin in the blender. Just depends on how smooth or chunky you want your sauce.

After the canned tomatoes, I added a couple tablespoons of tomato paste as well. I only recently found the tubes of tomato paste at the grocery store, and I love it! The cans felt so wasteful-especially when I only needed a small amount.

Atir everything up, add the roast back in, cover and simmer until it smells so good you have to dig in!

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I had some whole wheat cheese tortilini in the fridge, so I cooked that up, and added a sprinkle of good parmesean cheese. Perfect cold weather meal!

Ooo, one tip – if you don’t like a lot of onions in your sauce, skip the chopped onions. Instead, take a whole white onion and add it to the sauce when you add the roast. When the sauce is ready, take the onion out. You get a subtle onion taste without the onion pieces!

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Dinner!

Now, this makes a BIG pot of sauce. So I froze some, and I have some for lunch, but maybe I’ll do something different with the rest. Mom’s stuffed shells recipe is sounding pretty good right now…

Best-o Pesto!

First, I’d like to remind everyone to carefully rinse their lettuce. I found two small slugs in mine yesterday! While I’m sure it’s an excellent source of protein, it’s an unpleasant surprise. However, as Alycia said, “And truthfully, I don’t want to eat any lettuce that a slug isn’t interested in.”

As I mentioned in my previous post, we are invited to pick fresh herbs from Dean’s Greenhouse when we pick up our CSA box. I had some left over from last week and I also picked a bunch of basil and parsley. What to make? I suddenly had a flashback from when I spent the summer in Italy and remembered all the pesto I ate. For some reason, I didn’t like it then. But, I decided to give it another try. I had some random elbow mac in the cupboard, so I threw that in a pot to cook. Then, I made pesto using all the basil, lemon basil, and parsley I had lying around. Oh, what a glorious thing to have fresh herbs just lying around!

Into the food processor they go along with some crushed garlic. Tomato photo bomb!

Give it a few pulses while adding enough olive oil to taste. I neglected to take a picture of this step. Sorry.

I scooped it out of the food processor and put it directly on the pasta. Then I mixed in some salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese.

Meanwhile, I had some chicken cooking on the stove. I tossed up a salad from the CSA box and Voila! Dinner is served! P.S. It was delicious!