Pasta is an absolute staple in our house; it’s hard to deny something so fast, versatile and inexpensive (even if you’re buying fresh or the “high end” dry variety.) If you peeked into our cabinets, you could guess whom had done the most recent shopping trip depending on whether or not the dry pasta you find is semolina buccatini or fusilli as opposed to the multigrain shapes or italian imports. (Try to guess who buys what, eh?)
It doesn’t matter that much because no matter what the variety, my sweet husband will eat a whole pound of it for lunch, tossing it into “pasta salads” with raw vegetables, beans and sometimes an egg. It’s pretty bachelor of him but I’m over the moon that he would rather make this than run to the McDonald’s down the street (which would literally NEVER happen, praise all.) He insists that pasta is pasta but that’s just not true — not all pastas are created equal and I know this because I can see the satisfaction on his face when I find a combination that just “works.” This is one of those. Because we can still rely on the fact that we will be receiving at least one or two butternut squashes in our CSA box each week, this combination is one that we’ve tried quite a few times and just continue to like more and more each time. It was originally inspired by the Sprouted Kitchen’s version posted here earlier this fall and it was one of the first recipes of her’s that I tried – this delicious pasta has been reason enough for me to return again and again.
We started by altering the recipe by upping the quantity of pasta, throwing in some chicken. From there we’ve moved on to manipulating the greens (dinosaur kale is a favorite for use in both the pesto and the pasta,) and the cheese. Usually we’re using cubes of squash that have been pre-roasted which makes this a meal that can be ready before that first glass of wine is even finished. Enjoy! – xo L
- (optional) 2-3 breasts of chicken, baked/roasted/grilledto your liking
- 2 lbs. (one large) butternut squash, peeled seeded and cut into 1'' pieces
- 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil or melted coconut oil
- 2 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- bit of fresh grated nutmeg
- 16 oz (1 lb )8 oz. brown rice, quinoa or whole grain fusilli pasta
- 2 huge handfuls (about 3 cups) well chopped baby spinach
- 1 large/ 2 small cloves garlic
- zest and juice of one meyer lemon or lime
- 1/3 cup toasted, unsalted pistachio nuts
- 1-2 Tbsp chili flakes (to taste, really)
- 1 cup packed cilantro
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan or pecorino, plus more for garnish
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- few pinches of salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 450' and set a large pot of salted water to boil.
- On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the butternut cubes with the olive oil (enough to coat), smoked paprika, salt, a grate of nutmeg and toss to coat. Bake for about 20 minutes or until edges are charred.
- Cook the pasta according to instructions, reserving one cup of the cooking water.
- Next, the pesto: in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, combine the garlic, lemon zest and juice, pulsing a few times to break down. Add the red pepper flakes, pistachios, herbs and parmesan and run the processor to mix, about 30 seconds. Drizzle in the olive oil and a few pinches of salt and pepper and run until combined. At this point you can add cheese, chili or other spices to taste. If you want it thinner, add a splash of water or oil.
- In a large serving bowl, combine the pesto, greens, drained pasta and half of the pasta water and toss gently. The warm pasta and water will wilt the greens perfectly. Add water if you're finding "pockets" of pesto.
- Garnish with a fresh grate of cheese, pepper and any extra cilantro.