In a perfect world, keeping up this blog would pay the bills. In that same perfect world, I would travel to my local farmers market and carefully select a beautiful, locally grown, butternut squash. Then I’d share pictures of the smooth skin, bright orange flesh, and the crunchy, nutty, salty, perfectly toasted seeds. That would just be the beginning, luring you in the perfect world of eating in.
Unfortunately, that world, is not my reality. My reality is a day job, scrambling to find time to work out, returning my mother’s phone call, cleaning the bathroom, folding the laundry, making dinner, taking pictures and posting them here. So, while I envy all of the food blogs with beautiful photographs of fresh ingredients, I’ll focus on my reality. Good food can still be made with ingredients from the run of the mill grocery store. Would it be better if it was FRESH! ORGANIC! LOCALLY GROWN! Probably yes. But, I’m a working woman cooking on a weekday, so I’ll admit that my butternut squash came pre-cut from Costco. I can only give what I got and I’m not gonna lie to you. Still better than eating out though–at least in my book.
Tonight’s creation was a Butternut Squash Rotini. I’ve made iterations of this with numerous substitutions. I paired it with roasted mushrooms and brussel sprouts which I’ll post later this week. I love the creaminess of this dish, even with skim milk. I always use whole wheat pasta, the nuttiness really compliments the sweetness of the butternut squash. I’m not just saying that because whole wheat pasta is healthier. Really, I think it’s better. Skeptical? Try it for yourself and let me know!
BUTTERNUT SQUASH WITH WHOLE WHEAT ROTINI
1 butternut squash, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
8 0z. whole wheat rotini (penne will work too)
1 small onion, chopped
1 italian sausage link, chopped, casing removed (optional)
1 cup frozen peas (optional)
1 tablespoon butter
4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons flour
3 1/2 cups milk (skim works!)
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (optional)
Pre-heat oven to 425F. On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, spread out the squash and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper. (TIP: If you are using a whole fresh butternut squash, I find it easier to cut the squash into large chunks, with the skin on, but seeded, and roast. Once cooled, the skin peels right off and its easier than removing the skin before roasting) Roast the squash for about 20 mins, until soft and edges are just turning golden. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Salt and cook per the instructions on the box, then set aside. While, the pasta is cooking, add the remaining olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add sausage and onions and saute. Once onions are soft, add peas, is using. Cook about 2-3 minutes until the peas are defrosted and warm, then add roasted squash and remaining spices. Set aside.
In a small sauce pan over medium-low heat, melt butter, then add garlic and flour. Cook roux, stirring constantly for about 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and add the milk in a steady stream. Place back on medium-low heat and bring to a light simmer, whisking constantly. Cook the milk mixture until the milk thickens to coat a spoon. (This step is tricky, the “right” temperature depends on your stove. If it is too low, this step can take more than 15 minutes. Too hot, and it will scorch. If you’ve got it right, in about 5-7 minutes the milk should thicken enough to coat a spoon). If you are a fantastic multi-tasker, you can start this while the sausage and onions are cooking, but no pressure, you can take it one step at a time too!
Once the milk is thickened, remove it from the heat. In a large pot or bowl, add the pasta to the squash mixture, pour the milk mixture over it. Mix all of the ingredients together to meld. Salt and pepper to taste.