Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Butternut Squash and Parsnip Baked Pasta

This homey baked pasta is a grown-up version of mac 'n' cheese, and a great way to sneak more winter vegetables into your diet.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 cups (1/2-inch) peeled and cubed butternut squash
  • 1 cup chopped parsnip
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 2 cups uncooked penne pasta
  • 1/2 cup grated vegan cheese, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons vegan butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup plain non-dairy milk
1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, crushed red pepper, and garlic; saute for 3 minutes.  Add the butternut squash and parsnip; saute for 10 minutes.  Add the sage, parsley, nutmeg, allspice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper; remove from heat and set aside.

(Note: if you prefer to cut out some prep work, you can use 1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage and 1 teaspoon dried parsley in place of the fresh).

2. Meanwhile, cook the penne according to package directions.  Drain over a bowl, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.  Combine the squash mixture, pasta, and 1/4 cup of the cheese in an 11x7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

(Note: try the vegan mozzarella block from Galaxy Foods for this recipe, or any other white vegan cheese that mimics Parmesan).

3. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the flour and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk.  Add the milk; cook for 5 minutes, still stirring constantly with a whisk.  Gradually add the reserved cooking liquid and cook for a final 2 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens.  Add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. 

4. Pour the milk mixture over the pasta mixture and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese.  Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes - the top should be lightly browned.

Want even more winter veggies with your meal?  Two great sides to pair with this pasta include rutabaga roasted in just a little maple syrup, and wilted kale with a spritz of lemon juice.

Nutrition Info:
4 servings (2 cups), Calories 437 

Tasting Notes:
The strong taste of red pepper dominated this dish, to the detriment of absolutely everything else.  It drowned out the sage, the nutmeg, the allspice - all the yummy fall flavors I was anticipating, in sum.  Next time, I would quite simply leave it out, because other than that, the dish was pure comfort food.  A creamy, decadent sauce over the pasta, and wonderfully tender squash and parsnip.  Like I said at the beginning of this post, adult mac 'n' cheese.


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