Thursday, 19 August 2010

Penne pasta bake with butternut squash

It was just a couple of months ago that I realised how tasty this squash can be when used in pasta. I used to make usual Indian curry with this vegetable which used to turn even the spiciest curry into a sweet one... I even tried it with some coconut milk gravy but the taste was not very good.

I watched Giada using this in a pasta dish which really was looking very interesting. This vegetable is so healthy as it is rich in beta carotene... also many other vitamins and minerals... above all this cooks in a jiffy... just as the pasta cooks the sauce will be ready.. which works out for me just right.. These days I have started making one-pot dishes more frequently as I want to spend the precious evenings with my baby and husband for a family walk or at the park rather than in the kitchen making traditional meals..

Will tell you about a secret in a while.. before that.. here is how I made this


Wholewheat Penne - 250 g (Serves 4)
Butternut Squash - Peeled and diced - 3 cups
Onion - 1
Tomato - 4 ( I used canned tomatoes and they had some basil added to it which was very nice but this is optional)
Garlic - 3 to 5 pods
Reduced fat Cheddar or Reduced fat Mozzarella - 250 g - Grated
Salt and pepper - to taste
Italian Seasoning - Optional


Cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water until they are just cooked but have a bite.

In the meantime saute the onions and garlic in olive oil. Add crushed black pepper.

When the onions are translucent add the tomatoes and cook for a minute until they give out the juices and turn mushy. If you are using canned tomatoes, just give it a minute to cook and bubble away..

Add the squash cubes along with a big ladleful of pasta cooking water.

Mix, cover and cook for 5 minutes until the squash is tender. Add salt to taste and some crushed black pepper.

Using a potato masher, mash the squash to form a nice and chunky sauce. Add the Italian seasoning if you are using.

Strain the cooked pasta and add it to the sauce.


You can actually mix the cheese into the sauce and pasta and then transfer them to baking dish but I did it this way.. (just this time) You can even make a more cheesy sauce - Simple- Add 2 tbsp of wholewheat flour to the pan after mashing the squash. Once well mixed add a cup of semi skimmed milk and whisk thoroughly. Add the cheese and remove the pan from fire to let the cheese melt slowly before adding the pasta.

In a baking dish place half of the pasta mixture. Top it with a half of cheese (if you are not making cheesy sauce) and repeat the layers and sprinkle with the remaining cheese over the top. Make sure you have enough cheese on the top to cover the whole baking dish to make it decadent and mouth-watering..

Bake this in a preheated oven (200 deg C) until the cheese is melted on the top and is golden brown and the sauce is bubbling nicely. Enjoy the sizzling sound while the dish comes out from the oven...

We enjoyed this yummy pasta with a glass of juice... :)

Now for the secret: I actually mixed the left over mixed veg curry into the sauce which gave it a great twist in flavour... But make sure you plan these things before starting to make this dish so that you can adjust the salt and spice level in the pasta. :)

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