Tis’ the season for pumpkin and squash recipes around the blogosphere. Shannon’s Savory Pumpkin Bread Pudding was a hit at the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival, Jen’s Spicy Pumpkin and Peanut Curry reminds me of my favorite Tibetan dish, and Hannah’s Delicata Panna Cottas demonstrate that pumpkin isn’t the only winter squash that can get a sweet twist.
Like Hannah, I too had quite a few delicata squash. (Their small size and thin skin makes them perfect to handle and a bit easier to cook with than butternut squash.) I also had some parsnips that amazingly had persevered since my last CSA pick up in late October. A little Googling revealed a recipe from Cooking Light that sounded perfect – Butternut Squash and Parsnip Baked Pasta. I substituted my delicata squash for the butternut squash and made a few additional changes. This included using some Fiesta Fettucini from Al Dente that I received as a sample to try. I was afraid it was going to be an unfair test since a baked pasta dish requires a little more structure and density to the pasta so it doesn’t disintegrate into mush while baking, but this pasta performed beautifully. An egg pasta, it had a texture and flavor that reminded me so much of homemade noodles. Before trying this I was pretty happy with the store brand whole wheat pasta I bought from Whole Foods, but this is definitely better for dishes where you want the pasta to shine. Combined with the squash, parsnips and a light béchamel sauce it was the perfect fall dish. I love how the vegetables balanced out the béchamel and cheese so it tasted indulgent without being too heavy. My version uses rendered duck fat because it is tremendously savory and full flavored, but you could easily use olive oil or butter. With either of these substitutions it would make a great vegetarian-friendly dish for Thanksgiving because it’s substantial enough to have as a main dish (I’d easily skip turkey for this), but also works well as a side.
Yields four servings.
- 1 tablespoon rendered duck fat (olive oil or butter may be substituted)
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled delicata squash
- 1 cup chopped parsnip
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
- 2 cups uncooked fettuccine pasta, I used Fiesta Fettucini from Al Dente
- 1/2 cup Italian blend shredded cheese, divided
- Cooking spray
- 1 1/2 tablespoons rendered duck fat (olive oil or butter may be substituted)
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup 1% low-fat milk
- 1 cup vegetable broth
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Heat duck fat in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, red pepper, and garlic; sauté 3 minutes. Add squash and parsnip; sauté 10 minutes. Stir in sage, parsley, nutmeg, allspice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper; remove from heat.
Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain in a colander over a bowl. Combine squash mixture, pasta, and 1/4 cup cheese in an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray, tossing gently to combine.
Melt rendered duck fat in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour; cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add milk; cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk. Gradually add broth; cook 2 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Pour milk mixture over pasta mixture; sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.
If you had to vote for a favorite squash, which would yours be?