Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Penne with Butternut Squash

So here is a recipe that can be served warm or cold, so it is a great take-along for a picnic, party or food delivery to someone. The original recipe calls for goat cheese, reason being is that it is a very soft cheese that will melt when the hot penne is added, creating a creamy sauce. I personally love the flavor of goat cheese but realize it may be too strong for others. Good substitutions in this case would be Brie, cream cheese, or Ricotta, which are all much more mild in taste. If you can think of another extremely soft cheese, try it! Either way, adding butternut squash to pasta is one of my all time favorite things.

What You Need:
Vegetable oil cooking spray
1 (2-pound) butternut or kombucha squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 onion, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
Olive oil, for drizzling
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound penne pasta
1 cup (8 ounces) goat cheese (or other) cubed
 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted (see note)
1 packed cup chopped fresh basil leaves (optional
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan

Put an oven rack in the upper third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Spray a baking sheet, liberally, with vegetable oil cooking spray. Set aside.
Mix the squash and onion together and arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bake for to 40 to 45 minutes until the vegetables are golden and cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.

While the squash mixture is cooling, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 2 cups of the pasta water. Put the pasta, goat cheese and 1 cup of pasta water in a large serving bowl. Toss until the cheese has melted and forms a creamy sauce. Add the squash and onion mixture, the walnuts and the basil. Toss well and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with Parmesan and serve.

To toast the walnuts, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven until lightly toasted, about 6 to 8 minutes Cool completely before using.

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