A Squared: What's For Dinner Wednesday: Healthy Fall Pasta with Roasted Butternut Squash

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What's For Dinner Wednesday: Healthy Fall Pasta with Roasted Butternut Squash

I am having a butternut squash moment right now. I love everything about this delicious squash-- it's hearty, good for you, can taste both sweet or savory, and is so versatile that it can be used in a wide variety of dishes. Plus, butternut squash is at its flavor peak during the fall-- just when you want to eat these hearty and flavorful dishes-- so this is the perfect time of year to cook with it!


Today's recipe is a variation of a roasted squash salad recipe that I shared here recently-- with a pasta twist. I had many of the same ingredients left over after making that salad and not one to make the same dish twice, I decided to use some of these great flavors that work so well together and turn them into a healthy and filling fall pasta dish. In this recipe, whole wheat pasta adds a great nutty flavor and heartiness that you don't get from standard pasta. The pasta is dressed very simply with one my favorite pasta additions: extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The pasta and the squash soak up the balsamic vinegar so the flavor of this dish is even better after being refrigerated and enjoyed for lunch the next day.


This meal is meatless and truthfully, you don't miss the meat here because there are so many flavors and filling ingredients. If you need a little more protein here though, grilled chicken or some roasted and shredded pork would both be a really delicious addition here!

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. dry whole grain pasta *I used rotini, but a short cut pasta like penne would also work well
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar  
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups cubed roasted butternut squash**
  • 1 1/2 cups baby spinach, rough chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried tart cherries or cranberries
  • 1/4 cup toasted pecans
  • 2 Tbs. fresh chopped parsley *You could also use 2 tsp. dry parsley flakes instead
  • 3 Tbs. fresh Parmesan, grated
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and immediately add to large bowl. Add olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper, and toss well to evenly coat the pasta.

Add squash, spinach, cherries, pecans, and parsley to the bowl and toss to evenly distribute. Top with grated Parmesan and serve immediately.

**How to roast butternut squash:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the top and bottom off a medium butternut squash and use a sharp knife to carefully peel off the skin. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds inside. Discard seeds and membranes.

Cut the squash into 1-inch chunks. In a large bowl, combine diced squash with 2 Tbs. olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss until well coated and then spread out on a large baking sheet.

Roast for 25-30 minutes until squash begins to caramelize and is fork tender.


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