Monday, October 25, 2010

Meatless Monday: Pumpkin-Chevre Pasta & Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad

Ah, the humble pumpkin! It graces us with its presence each October, ushering in a season of ghouls, goblins, candy corn, and becostumed walks of shame.

Usually relegated to cruel mutilation or cloyingly sweet pies, it's underused in savory dishes. Its mellow squashiness, however, lends itself perfectly to sauces, soups, and otherwise non-sugar-based applications. Pairing it with chevre was a random choice, but an all-out success! The sauce was smooth, slightly tangy, and tasted deeply of autumn.

Ross turned to me and said, "What is this?" as he shoveled another forkful in his mouth. Me: "Why?" Ross: "It's incredible." That's what I like to hear! He wasn't quite as jazzed up about the Brussels & chickpea salad, but not too many folks get giddy over miniature cabbages (what can I say - I'm a freak!). Actually, the salad is so hearty, it could stand alone as a vegetarian main dish. And, although it's Meatless Monday, I couldn't help but think how amazing it would be with a little pancetta or hard Spanish chorizo.

Don't be fooled by the nacho-cheese-esque appearance of the pasta sauce - this is one to serve to company. If you were having a dinner party with vegetarian guests, it would be an elegant main dish. It would also make a fantastic first course. If you're a normal person who doesn't plan their life around dinner parties, it makes, well, a scrumptious stormy-night-in dinner.

I'd recommend stocking up on canned pumpkin before it disappears into the night like a Halloween spirit. You'll want to make this all winter!


2/3 lb. whole wheat spaghetti
2 T. butter
1 T. olive oil
1 can unsweetened, unseasoned pumpkin puree
1 small log goat cheese (chevre)
~10 sage leaves
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
freshly grated nutmeg (or a sprinkle of jarred ground nutmeg)
~1/2 cup chicken broth
~1/4 cup pasta cooking water

~15 small Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and halved
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 T. butter
1 T. olive oil
salt and pepper and red pepper flakes
~1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar or red wine vinegar)
splash of chicken broth


Boil spaghetti until al dente. Drain, then set aside.


Meanwhile, heat butter and oil in for the Brussels Sprout salad in a pan. Add Brussels sprouts to pan and season with salt and pepper. Let cook without stirring or shaking the pan for about 10 minutes, until undersides of sprouts start to brown. Add chickpeas and stir. Cook for a few more minutes. Add vinegar, more seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Cover and let vinegar cook for a few minutes. Uncover and let vinegar evaporate. Add chicken broth and re-cover. Cook for a few minutes, then uncover and let it evaporate, too. Taste and adjust seasoning. If it tastes good, take it off the heat and keep it warm in a bowl.


Meanwhile, heat butter and oil for pasta sauce over medium high heat in a Dutch oven or other pot. Add onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook until onion is soft and translucent. Add chicken broth, sage, and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add pumpkin and chevre, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring, until chevre and pumpkin are mixed and sauce is one homogenous color. Cook over low heat until noodles are ready. Stir in a little pasta water if sauce gets thick.


Add cooked pasta to sauce (or vice versa) and stir to combine. Serve pasta alongside warm salad. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Gorgonzola Penne with Butternut Squash & Spinach

It's time for the truth: I can't find my camera.

Which begins to explain the even-worse-than-usual photos - and sad lack of posts - on this blog. I've been using my iPhone (and it's not even the iPhone 4, which takes scockingly lovely pictures). Of course I do a little primping in Photoshop, but no amount of amateur retouching can save these photos from themselves.

While I'm making excuses, I'll try this one: I've been sadly lacking in inspiration lately. Not that I haven't been cooking. I've just been cooking the same boring rotation of things I always make: tofu peanut curry, lasagna, pasta in a veggie marinara sauce. Zzzzzzzzz...

So, loyal readers, is there anything you'd like to see me make? Any requests? Ideas? Things from your own repertoire I could put my own spin on? I've reached the point of saturation: every time I open a Food & Wine or check my Chow daily email I think to myself, Already made that, or I don't really eat swordfish, or Baking? Who wants to measure?!

Having said all that, using blue cheese in a pasta sauce was new for me, and I really liked it. The other liquid ingredients cut the pungency of the cheese, but the deep moldy flavor is enough to create a tangy, savory, highly flavored sauce. I think next time I'd cook the butternut squash a little longer, but hey, I was really hungry. If I were going to make this a meaty dish, my first inclination would be to use hot pork sausage, or something whose flavor can stand up to the richness of the sauce. Then again, I know some of you are diehard chicken fans, and you could go that route, too.

Thanks for sticking with me through my existential recipe crisis! And please, leave me a comment or two with requests and inspiration!


2 T. butter
1 T. olive oil
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced
salt and pepper
3/4 c. white wine
3 cloves garlic, minced
juice of one lemon
~1-2 T. chopped fresh sage
1-2 T. chopped fresh parsley
~1/2 lb. gorgonzola cheese, in chunks
splash of milk (optional)
~1/3 cup pasta cooking water (if needed)
2/3 lb. whole wheat penne pasta


Pre-heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add butter and oil and let butter melt. Add butternut squash chunks to pan. Let cook without moving for about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Shake the pan and cook for about 5 more minutes.


Add in lemon juice, white wine, garlic, and herbs. Cover and cook for about 10 more minutes, until squash is tender but not mushy. Meanwhile, boil the penne pasta until just below al dente, reserving a little pasta water. Place the spinach in the bottom of a colander, and drain the pasta over the spinach to wilt it. Set aside.


When squash is tender, uncover the pan and add the gorgonzola. Let melt while stirring. If sauce is too thick, add a splash of milk and/or pasta water. Stir in drained pasta and spinach and stir until well mixed. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve and enjoy!
Related Posts with Thumbnails