Butternut squash. Where have you been all my life?
Butternut squash is a relatively new vegetable in my life. Growing up, it was never seen on our kitchen table – not cubed as a side dish, not even mashed like a potato. I can literally picture my dad saying that squash (especially the winter types like pumpkin, acorn and butternut) were what they’d feed the pigs back on the farm in Slovenia. Today I say – lucky piggies! Butternut squash is now a much-loved staple in my home.
Butternut squash has almost fully replaced both the regular and sweet potato in my house. I started adopting it in a lot of my recipes when I discovered it was one of the “allowed” vegetables part of the Dukan diet. It quickly filled the void where potatoes usually sat and I I can honestly say it was a change for the better! Did you know that one cup of butternut squash provides a whopping 437% percent of your daily vitamin A needs, as well as 52% of vitamin C – potato who?!?
Now…pasta is not part of the Dukan diet but points (!!!) for butternut squash and as for pasta – life is short right? I consider this dish a grown up spin on macaroni & cheese – still “orange” but the flavor now comes from a vegetable (that’s the grown up part) and PHEW! – there’s still plenty of cheese in it. I’ll admit, the imagery leaves much to be desired but but trust me, this dish is equal parts delicious and comforting.
Already love butternut squash? I hope you find that this recipe is a new spin on an old favourite! And…if you have yet to try the curvy squash, I hope this is the recipe to turn your taste buds into a fan! Puréed in soups or tossing cubed leftovers in a salad, the options are endless. Keep checking back here and you’re bound to find more butternut squash recipes from me!
- 1 medium-sized butternut squash, peeled and chopped
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 small shallot, chopped
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1 lb box of short pasta (I recommend Tortiglioni, Penne or Rigatoni)
- 1/4 cup freshly grated mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- crumbed (turkey) bacon, if desired
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Cut squash in half lengthwise and cross-wise. Scoop out seeds and place on baking sheet. Sprinkle a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Roast for 20 minutes, turn baking sheet, then roast for 20 minutes more, or until fork tender. Remove from oven, let cool slightly and then scoop flesh out and place into a bowl and mash using a fork or potato masher.
- Prepare water for pasta and cook according to directions.
- While pasta is cooking, heat a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add butter and shallots. Whisk continuously until the butter browns and small brown bits appear in the pan. Immediately whisk in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add milk, ricotta and mashed squash, then mix until until combined.
- Add cooked pasta to a large baking dish. Pour sauce over top, then use a spoon to fold the sauce into the pasta to coat it completely. Top with shredded cheeses. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until cheese is golden and bubbly.
- Top with crumbled bacon if desired.
- NOTE: this is a very “thick” sauce. If you would prefer it to be more saucy, I'd suggest adding more milk to the sauce while cooking. It is great reheated too!