Though it’s getting warmer now, I’m still saying goodbye to winter.

whole wheat

I had an impulse buy in the grocery store this week – I picked up a can of organic butternut squash puree. I had no idea what I would do with it. After assessing the other impulse buys in my pantry, I decided to pair the squash with some orecchiette pasta.

organic

My husband normally doesn’t care too much for the squash/pasta dinners I’ve tried in the past… or squash used as a sauce (chicken and pumpkin enchiladas I made a few years ago is one of the few meals he’s actually turned down!). He did, however, enjoy this recipe!

prebaking

The squash makes the pasta a little sweet, but it’s not an overpowering taste. The onions, garlic and rosemary balance the sweetness a bit, and the ricotta I added to the squash makes it a little creamier. I would probably prefer this made as a side dish (maybe served with chicken breast?), just because there’s not enough flavor complexity here to really hold my interest for an entire meal. But we all know I’m a finnicky eater 🙂 I highly recommend using orecchiette if you have it at your grocery store – it’s a neat little pasta and works great with non-marinara type sauces!

prebaking with bread

Goodbye winter and cold weather squash – I’ll miss you!

Baked Orecchiette with Organic Butternut Squash

Baked Orecchiette with Organic Butternut Squash
inspired by Martha’s Winter Squash and Shells

2 small/medium onions, thinly sliced
1 pound orecchiette pasta
1/3 cup low-fat ricotta
2 slices whole wheat bread, toasted and cubed
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons rosemary
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400F and butter a 13×9 casserole/baking dish. Heat a small amount of oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and add onions. Season the onions with salt, pepper and rosemary, and toss occasionally with a wooden spoon. Continue to stir and cook onions until browned and soft, approximately 15-20 minutes.

While onions are cooking, heat water for pasta and cook according to package instructions. Drain pasta when done, reserving one cup of the pasta water.

Add squash, ricotta and pasta water to onions, simmering for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to casserole dish and sprinkle with toasted whole wheat bread. Season with additional salt and pepper, and bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

Butternut Squash and Onion Soup (That Won't Ruin Your Diet)

A friend recently sent me a recipe for roasted butternut squash and shallot soup she found from Cooking Light. I love butternut squash soup, but I love it the way you should never have it – with heavy cream and sherry.

roasted butternut squash

Cooking Light outlines a healthier way to enjoy this soup, but unfortunately the recipe was a little expensive and called for ingredients that I don’t usually keep on hand, such as shallots, fresh ginger root and fresh chives. Ginger root is not expensive but I don’t love an overpowering ginger taste, shallots may be a little sweeter than regular onions but they’re also more expensive, and fresh chives are also expensive, especially if they’re only acting as a garnish.

I tried to minimize the cost of this recipe and make it a little more manageable for the average pantry. I found the onion taste to be a tad strong, but my husband had no complaints. Yet you do have to like onions to enjoy this recipe. There are other milder versions of this soup, as well as versions that incorporate nuts and apples. These sound absolutely delicious, and I’m excited to try them, but for this particular recipe I was trying to keep it simple.

I served this as the main course for dinner for my husband and I, so we had two full bowls with a little bit leftover. This would also be great as a side to have with a grilled cheese sandwich; I had a piece of bread with my soup and I enjoyed dipping the bread into the soup. If you have other vegetables in your kitchen that you would like to use, such as carrots, that would make an excellent addition as well.

butternut squash onion soup

Butternut Squash and Onion Soup
inspired by Cooking Light

4 cups (1-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 thinly sliced scallions
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons (1-inch) slices fresh chives
black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375°. Combine butternut squash cubes, oil, salt, minced ginger, minced garlic, chopped onion and minced ginger in a jelly-roll pan. Bake for 50 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Cool 10 minutes.

Pour half the squash mixture and half the broth into a blender. Remove the center piece of the blender’s lid to allow heat to escape; lay a folded paper towel over the opening. Blend mixture until smooth, then pour into a large saucepan. Pour the remaining squash mixture and broth into the blender and repeat previous process. Cook over medium heat for five minutes or until thoroughly heated. Top with scallions and pepper as desired.