Delicata Squash and Parsnip Baked Pasta

by Kelly on November 23, 2009

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.

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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 perfectButternut 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.

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Delicata Squash and Parsnip Baked Pasta
Yields four servings.

Ingredients:
- 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

Method:

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?

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Jen (Modern Beet) November 23, 2009 at 12:24 pm

yum! I love baked pasta dishes, but never thought to add root vegetables or squash. I like your use of duck fat too. It’s so flavorful and adds a nice touch to whatever dish you add it to

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Lauren November 23, 2009 at 1:12 pm

I bet that even my squash-loathing husband (ok, maybe that was a bit too harsh) would like this pasta dish. I’d have to go with butternut squash as my favorite variety. When it’s roasted until caramelized, butternut squash can make my day!

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Jessica @ How Sweet November 23, 2009 at 1:15 pm

Wow, this looks so savory and incredible!

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Elina November 23, 2009 at 2:16 pm

That first picture looks fantastic! I was planning on making a butternut squash and parmesan bread pudding today, but my husband proclaimed that he’s sick of eating squash (we had it once last week… 1/2 of the squash so that’s why I have leftovers) and I may have made it once before over the past few years. Apparently that was too much for him to handle. lol

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Shannon November 23, 2009 at 7:37 pm

oh my gosh, this looks fabulous. to the top of my to-try list! :)

ps- love the idea of the applesauce-cauliflower puree!

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The Duo Dishes November 23, 2009 at 7:56 pm

Rendered duck fat? Oooh fancy. Sounds rich, creamy and warm. Very filling!

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zoe November 23, 2009 at 9:42 pm

This sounds and looks so delicious, I love butternut squash the best!

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Kelly November 23, 2009 at 10:35 pm

Jen – I agree. It seems so indulgent, but if I’m going to cook duck I might as well save the fat. Now I’m thinking some simple steamed carrots tossed in duck fat and parsley would be amazing.

Lauren – It’s definitely good for a butternut squash hater. I will admit I definitely picked up WAY too much squash this year and have OD’ed a little, but this dish was enough to revive my interest.

Jessica – Thank you.

Elina – I like it a lot, but sometimes I’m in your husband’s camp. Sometimes it can just be TOO much.

Shannon – It’s definitely worth putting on the list. So good. Glad you liked that idea. I may have to try it out myself.

The Duo Dishes – It definitely sounds more fancy than it is. Seriously, it’s as easy as saving the fat the next time you make duck. Liquid gold I tell you.

Zoe – Thank you!

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sophia November 23, 2009 at 11:56 pm

Kabocha is definitely my favorite. I’ve tried delicata squash before, but did not like it too much. Now after seeing this post, I NEED to give them another chance. Preferably in this dish!

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brandi November 24, 2009 at 9:07 am

yum, that looks delicious! I love squash in pasta dishes, and I made one last night, too!

I love butternut and kabocha, but I’ll eat any kind of winter squash.

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Natasha - 5 Star Foodie November 24, 2009 at 6:26 pm

Delicata squash sounds so good with pasta, yum! I think my favorite squash is butternut but I do like them all!

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Teresa November 24, 2009 at 7:28 pm

Kelly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen delicata squash at the supermarket before. I guess I just wasn’t looking. This dish sounds amazing. A perfect sidedish for Thanksgiving. Sounds delicious. May you have a lovely holiday dear friend.

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Judy November 24, 2009 at 7:33 pm

Love this recipe. I am a huge fan of anything pumpkin.

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Diana November 25, 2009 at 1:19 am

That top picture is gorgeous! I look at the squash display in the grocery store but never buy one because I’m so used to associating gagging from the texture of roasted squash. So I’d have to say acorn squash because we got a bunch in our CSA and I was able to make some great dishes with lots of texture in them.

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Hannah November 25, 2009 at 10:35 am

Another fantastic use for delicata! I’ve just got to veganize this and make it tonight, I love how creamy and comforting it sounds.

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Kerstin November 28, 2009 at 12:10 am

What a pretty and flavorful way to combine squash and pasta! This looks like a great dish to serve to guests!

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CaSaundra November 28, 2009 at 8:43 am

This looks amazing! I may have to add it to my list of things to make for our Christmas get togethers. Funny thing–I have never had parsnips, and being a veggie fanatic, I need to go pick some up!!

And thanks for the email–are you having a good time in Minnesota?! The weather is actually holding out quite nicely which is a surprise. I only stopped through Minneapolis on the 20th, so I was sad we won’t get to meet up this time! How often to you come to visit?!

I would LOVE you to look up info for private chefs. Are you sure you don’t mind?! I appreciate it! I am in Bemidji, and I have a feeling the closest culinary schools are probably The Arts Institute and Le Cordon Bleu in Minneapolis.

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Carolyn Jung November 28, 2009 at 8:45 pm

Oh my! Cheesy noodles WITH a little duck fat thrown in for good measure? I’m dying here. Can you send some over asap?? ;)

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Christi Mead November 8, 2010 at 12:21 am

This dish was awesome! We had it last night and it was creamy and delicious. You have to try it!

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