Sunday, September 5, 2010
Hearty Harvest Pasta
It may not be autumn quite yet but we are on the cusp here in the Ozark hills and I couldn't resist this wonderful fall dish. This Hearty Harvest Pasta is combines delicious subtle seasonings with healthy ingredients for a dish that can be served as a main or a side.
This dish started off as a new way to cook squash. I was overseas and I needed a dish for a Thanksgiving potluck at work. I wanted something a little different and had only just started learning the joys of roasting vegetables but it sounded like a great way to prepare squash. The only squash I could find were butternut and acorn which I had only ever had with butter and brown sugar. I looked through some vegetarian recipes and got some ideas then basically smelled my way through the spice cabinet adding what seemed to feel right. Voila! Harvest roasted squash. It was a hit. Since then I have mixed it up, adding different things along the way but have found a new level of satisfaction by adding it to pasta.
Squash pairs well with pasta and is often found as a filling in ravioli. It also works well instead of adding meat and adds not only a subtle mild flavor but also good nutrients.
In this dish we are keeping the basic ingredients simple and expanding our use of spices. Many people have very few spices in their pantries but good use of herbs and spices can help you make almost any dish healthier.
1 box garden vegetable rotini
1 acorn squash
1 butternut squash
4 cloves garlic
1 cup seedless red grapes
Start by slicing the squash thinly (no more than 1/4 inch thickness) and laying it out on a foil lined baking sheet. (You can peel them if you like but I enjoy the contrasting colors and unless the outside is very thick, it softens enough with cooking to be an interesting texture.) Sprinkle some of each of the spices being careful with the clove, allspice, and sage which can be overpowering if too much is used. If you need to measure I would say a 1/2 teaspoon of each and salt and pepper to taste. Next slice the onions and garlic and layer on top of the squash. Add the grapes next then drizzle lightly with olive oil and roast in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until tender. In salted water cook pasta until aldente, drain, return to pan. When the vegetables are done combine with the pasta and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Mix well and serve.
The beauty of this dish is that roasting brings out the natural sweetness in foods and with the addition of the grapes there is no need to add sugar. The spices add warmth and offer a familiar combination that is comforting and delicious. If you wants a little more diversity of texture add some toasted pine nuts to finish off the dish.