Penne with Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese

Penne with Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese

Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

Level: Easy
Serves:4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

Vegetable oil cooking spray
1 (2-pound) butternut or kombucha squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 onion, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
Olive oil, for drizzling
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound penne pasta
1 cup (8 ounces) goat cheese, crumbled
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted (see Cook’s Note)
1 packed cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan

Directions

Put an oven rack in the upper third of the oven.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Spray a baking sheet, liberally, with vegetable oil cooking spray. Set aside.

Mix the squash and onion together and arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bake for to 40 to 45 minutes until the vegetables are golden and cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.

While the squash mixture is cooling, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 2 cups of the pasta water. Put the pasta, goat cheese and 1 cup of pasta water in a large serving bowl. Toss until the cheese has melted and forms a creamy sauce. Add the squash and onion mixture, the walnuts and the basil. Toss well and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with Parmesan and
serve.

Cook’s Note:

To toast the walnuts, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven until lightly toasted, about 6 to 8 minutes Cool completely before using.

The original plan for Christmas Eve dinner was to make a Martha Stewart dish–squash with pasta shells. We read through the recipe and realized it called or a squash puree and so we decided to skip the recipe and try this one instead. A friend had given it to me because we both love squash and goat cheese. 😉 (Thanks Kat!)


We didn’t have a butternut squash but the acorn squash worked just as well. Neither of us knew how to “peel” a squash so I Googled it and he tried to find a Youtube video of it. Are we nerds or what? Michael was in charge of peeling the squash since I can’t be trusted with knives.


While he peeled the squash–which took forever mind you–I was in charge of chopping the walnuts and toasting them.


Then I chopped the onion into cubes.


I arranged the squash and onions on the tray and oiled them up to bake.


Michael chopped the fresh basil. It smelled heavenly. There’s nothing better than fresh herbs. If I didn’t have such a black thumb I’d suggest to Michael that we have an herb garden. But that would just be a disaster. (Last year I tried to grow carrots. Nothing grew. Not even a little tiny one!)


While the onions and squash were baking, we watched some of “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”. And adult beverage may have been enjoyed…


After about 40 minutes I took the squash out of the oven and we started the pasta.

I grated the fresh Parmesan and crumbled up the goat cheese the best I could. It was more like a paste than a crumble. We added the hot pasta water to the bowl with the goat cheese.


Then we added the cooked pasta. I mixed it all around until the pasta was all coated.


Next, added the squash and onions. It smelled wonderful. I could not wait to eat it!


After that Michael added the chopped basil and the walnuts and I mixed it all around to coat evenly.


Topped each plate with some fresh Parmesan and freshly grated pepper and dinner was served!


Dinner was delightful. Everything complimented each other really nicely. The squash was really sweet but the cheese and the basil kept it from being overly sweet. The walnuts were a nice crunchy addition. Michael and I both commented on how bacon would probably work well in the dish. But then when does bacon NOT add something great to a dish?


Final Verdict: I would most definitely make this dish again. The recipe said the prep time was about 10 minutes–not true. Peeling the squash alone took about 30 minutes. But maybe it’s easier with Butternut Squash? I would definitely like to try the recipe with Butternut Squash to see if the flavors are different too.

QUESTION: Have you ever made something similar to this? What did you think? And is there any easier way to peel squash??

7 Responses

  1. MMMM that looks delicious! I don’t think I’d make it if I had to try and peel the squash though… I’d probably stab myself in the hand by accident. I think I saw frozen squash pieces at Whole Foods one time… maybe you could use that instead??

  2. Peeling squash can be really tough. They do sell the pre-peeled and cubed butternut squash in most grocery stores which saves time. I’ve heard that if you poke the squash a few times with a fork and then microwave it for a few minutes, the skin comes off a lot easier. Also, don’t be afraid to cut the squash in half or quarters before you peel it so its easier to get into the little nooks and crannies. This dish sounds right up my alley – delicious!

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