Monday, October 17, 2011

meatless monday: baked pasta with butternut squash, mushrooms, kale, and goat cheese

This weekend flew by, as usual. We had a friend over on Friday. So, naturally, there were cocktails, a whole new batch of blueberry thyme pastry bites, and See's Candy bridge mix. Then Saturday, there was the 7 course pasta tasting. Oh and Sunday, I had brunch with the girls at Tavern - arguably the best eggs benedict I've ever had.

My taste buds were thrilled, but my stomach...not so much. That was quite a lot of rich food in a short 3-day window. I'm craving healthy and light for dinner tonight and this pasta does the trick. It's filled with veggies and feels luxurious from the butternut squash puree, but there's no added cream. Don't stress over the goat cheese. It's the healthiest cheese for your body and it's not much when you spread it among 8 servings. Plus, it  simply tastes wonderful.

baked pasta with butternut squash, mushrooms, kale, and goat cheese
(serves 8)

16 ounces of penne (I used brown rice penne)
16 ounces of butternut squash (I bought the precubed kind from Trader Joe's)
Approximately 1 cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons oil
Salt and pepper
8 ounces of cremini mushrooms
2 leeks
1/4 cup of chopped thyme
3 cups of kale
8 ounces of goat cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix butternut squash with 1 tablespoon of oil, salt, and pepper on a baking sheet. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until squash is fork tender.

Blend squash with vegetable broth, 1/4 cup at a time. The consistency should be like butternut squash puree. It isn't required to use the full cup of broth.

Clean and slice the mushrooms. Chop the leeks and thoroughly clean. I usually put the sliced leeks in a pasta strainer and rinse in the sink. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a pan over medium heat. Place mushrooms in pan and leave - untouched - for 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown. Flip mushrooms and add leeks, thyme, salt, and pepper. Continue to cook for about 5 minutes. Add kale and cover with lid to steam the kale.

Turn down oven to 350 degrees.

Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add penne noodles and follow the timing instructions on the package. Drain pasta.

Mix penne, vegetables, and butternut squash in baking dish. Top with goat cheese. Baked for 30 minutes, when cheese has softened and sauce is hot and slightly bubbly.

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