My kids love the Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese from Trader Joe’s. (It sells out daily- so they are clearly not alone!) This vegetarian comfort food dish seemed reminiscent enough to be a crowd-pleaser. 😉 I liked that it incorporated leafy greens too.
This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Yasmin Fahr. I modified the method and proportions. I also added a poblano chile, red onion, garlic, and cilantro. Nice.
Yield: Serves 6
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium or 1/2 large red onion, diced
1 poblano chile, seeded, ribbed, and diced, divided (or 1 jalapeño, sliced into rounds)
6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 medium butternut squash (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeds removed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 6 cups)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more to taste
1 pound rigatoni, penne, or other tubular pasta
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano), divided
4 packed cups greens (I used 2 cups turnip greens (sliced into 1-inch ribbons) and 2 cups baby spinach)
8 oz (1/2 pound) fresh mozzarella, torn into bite-size chunks
1/3 cup cilantro or flat-leaf parsley and tender stems, roughly chopped, for garnish
Bring a large covered pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until not quite al dente, 3 to 4 minutes less than the package instructions. (It should be a little too firm to the bite.) Reserve 2 cups of the pasta water and drain. Set aside.
Meanwhile, in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet with high sides and a tight-fitting lid (or a Dutch oven), heat the oil over medium-high until shimmering. (I used a large and wide enameled cast iron pan.)
Add the diced onion and half of the diced poblano chile, season with salt, and cook until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes.
Add the sliced garlic and continue to cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add the cubed squash and season with salt, cumin, and red-pepper flakes. Cook, stirring every minute, until squash becomes browned in spots and feels just tender, 6 to 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400 degrees. (I set my oven to convection.)
When the squash is just tender, add 1 cup of the reserved pasta water. Bring to an active simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash is soft and easily mashable, 10 to 12 minutes.
Turn off the heat, then use the back of a wooden spoon to crush about half of the butternut squash and leave the rest chunky. Season the squash to taste, keeping in mind that salty Parmesan will be added soon.
Add the cooked pasta to the skillet along with the remaining 1 cup of reserved pasta water and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. Stir vigorously to combine.
Stir in the greens one handful at a time until each addition wilts slightly.
Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan, the mozzarella, and the remaining diced poblano chile. Place in the oven and cook until the top is melted and browned in spots, 12 to 15 minutes.
This dish was the first-runner up for Valentine’s Day dinner. It was a Valentine’s Day bonus that I made it in addition to our celebratory biscuit-topped Chicken Pot Pie. Right? Why choose when you can have both? 🙂
This recipe was adapted from The Sullivan Street Bakery Cookbook by Jim Lahey. I increased the amount of vegetables, modified the baking temperature, and incorporated the garlic used to make the garlic oil. We could eat some sort of cheesy, veggie pasta every night of the week. Great!
Yield: Serves 6 to 8
For the Béchamel:
5 T (70 g) unsalted butter
2 T (20 g) all-purpose flour
3 cups (650 g) whole milk
1/4 tsp (2 g) fine sea salt
1/4 tsp (1 g) freshly grated nutmeg
For the Pasta:
2 T (24 g) coarse salt
1 pound (454 g) penne or rigatoni
1 bunch Swiss chard (about 1/2 to 3/4 pound), large stems removed, cut into 1-inch ribbons
1 bunch thin asparagus (about 1/2 to 3/4 pound), cut into 1-inch pieces
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until the flour is a light butterscotch color, about 2 minutes.
Add the milk in a slow, steady stream, whisking continuously to keep lumps from forming.
Continue to whisk and cook for 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens and has the consistency of heavy cream.
Pour the sauce into a bowl to cool.
To Finish the Dish:
Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil, add the salt, and cook the pasta according to the package directions for al dente.
Drain the pasta well and spread it out over the surface of a rimmed baking sheet.
Heat the oven to 475, preferably on convection.
Steam the chard and asparagus for 4 minutes, or until tender. Lightly season with salt and pepper.
Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat, add the garlic, and cook for a minute or so, until it begins to sizzle. Lower the heat and continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes, until the garlic is lightly browned. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Brush the inside of a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish with some of the garlic oil.
In the pot that was used to cook the pasta, combine the cooled pasta, the garlic oil (including the garlic, if desired), the béchamel, half of the grated cheese, the steamed asparagus and chard. Stir until well incorporated.
Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish and top with remaining cheese.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the pasta begins to brown on top.
I have a few broccoli pasta recipes to share. I’m always buying the 3 pound bag of broccoli florets at Costco when I’m on a break from my CSA vegetables. 😉
This first dish is one of the Most Popular Recipes of 2017 from New York Times Cooking. I’m surprised that I didn’t see it when it was first published- especially because it’s a sheet pan dish! Although it has the ingredients typical of a pasta casserole, more of the broccoli and toppings get crispy by the increased surface area exposed to direct heat by cooking it on a sheet pan.
This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I increased the amount of broccoli and used Gigli pasta. We ate it with a huge green salad. Quick, easy, and tasty. It would be even more incredible if it was topped with fresh ricotta. Next time!
Yield: Serves 6
2 ½pounds broccoli florets, cut into bite-size pieces
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more as needed
½teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
12ounces chiocciole, penne, or other tube-shaped pasta (I used Gigli pasta)
⅓cup grated Parmesan cheese
⅓cup panko bread crumbs
finely grated zest from 1 large lemon
½teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12ounces best quality, whole milk ricotta
fresh lemon juice, for serving (optional)
Heat oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
On a rimmed baking sheet, toss together broccoli, 3 T olive oil, cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon salt and the red pepper flakes.
Roast until tender and browned at the edges, 18 to 25 minutes, tossing halfway through. Remove from oven and set oven to broil.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.
In a small bowl, stir together Parmesan, panko, lemon zest, a pinch of salt and the black pepper.
Toss cooked pasta with broccoli on baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then dollop with ricotta.
Sprinkle with Parmesan mix, drizzle generously with oil, and broil until topping is crisped and golden, 2 to 3 minutes.
Adding vegetables to a baked pasta dish is a wonderful way to slim it down and make it a little bit healthier. My son enjoyed this version as much as our standard super cheesy baked ziti. Not only does this version incorporate cauliflower, it is also upgraded by adding flavor from saffron and anchovies.
This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Martha Rose Shulman. The dish was inspired by another Sicilian cauliflower dish in Clifford A. Wright’s “Cucinia Paradiso.” I modified the recipe by roasting the cauliflower, increasing the garlic and tomatoes, using whole wheat pasta, and incorporating mozzarella cheese. Great.
Yield: Serves 6
1 medium cauliflower, about 2 pounds, leaves and stem trimmed, cut into florets
coarse salt, to taste
pinch of saffron threads
2-4 T extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 anchovy fillets, rinsed and chopped
1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes, with juice
freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 T chopped flat leaf parsley
¾ pound ziti or penne rigate (I used whole wheat penne)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
1/2 pound part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated
Preheat an oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
On a parchment paper lined, rimmed baking sheet, toss the cauliflower florets with 1-2 tablespoons of the olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until tender.
Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees, on convection.
Place the saffron in a small bowl and add 3 tablespoons warm water. Let steep for 10 to 15 minutes.
Combine the grated cheeses in a bowl.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet and add the garlic. Cook, stirring, until it smells fragrant, about 30 seconds to a minute, and add the anchovies and tomatoes. Season to taste with salt (remembering that the anchovies will contribute a lot of salt) and freshly ground pepper.
Turn the heat down to medium-low and cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes have cooked down and smell fragrant, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the roasted cauliflower, saffron with its soaking water, and parsley, cover and simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt generously. Add the pasta. Cook until just al dente, a few minutes less than you would cook it to serve. It will soften further when it bakes. (I cooked the whole wheat penne noodles for 5 minutes, 2 minutes shy of al dente.) Drain and transfer to a bowl.
Oil a 3-quart baking dish. Toss the pasta with half the cauliflower mixture and half the cheese and spoon into the baking dish.
Combine the remaining cauliflower mixture with half of the remaining cheese and spoon over the pasta.
Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the top. Drizzle on the remaining tablespoon of oil.
Place in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until bubbling. Garnish with parsley, if desired. Serve hot.
This dish is going to be the beginning of an appetizer and side dish extravaganza of belated posts I have been wanting to share. Perfect timing (I’d say!) right before the Fourth of July and the peak of cookout season. 🙂
I especially loved this pasta salad because it had an equal ratio of vegetables to pasta. It was super garlicky, without even modifying the original recipe, and fresh. I loved the use of whole wheat penne too. This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. I increased the peas and green beans and omitted the wax beans. We ate it with grilled salmon sandwiches but it would also pair well with grilled chicken or tuna. Nice!
Yield: Serves 8
8 ounces whole-wheat penne
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
12 ounces haricots verts or green beans, trimmed and cut into thirds
7 ounces frozen peas (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced (2 tablespoons)
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lime zest, plus 1 tablespoon fresh juice (about 1 1/2 limes)
1 cup packed cilantro, finely chopped
Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water for 4 minutes.
Add beans; cook until pasta and beans are al dente, 4 to 5 minutes more.
Add peas and immediately drain. Run cold water over pasta and vegetables until completely cool; drain and transfer to a large bowl.
In a small skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add garlic; cook, stirring often, until golden, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Remove from heat; stir in lime zest and juice (it may splatter).
Add dressing and 3/4 teaspoon salt to pasta bowl; season with pepper. Toss with cilantro.
Adjust seasoning, if necessary, to taste.
Serve, or refrigerate in an airtight container up to 1 day.