Penne with roasted butternut squash, sausage and spinach

Butternut squash is one of the most common varieties of winter squash. It offers a good supply of vitamin A, potassium and fiber. Contrary to the name, winter squash is grown in the summer and harvested in the fall. Butternut squash is the main attraction in these recipes.

Penne with roasted butternut squash, sausage and spinach

Cooks notes: With a chill in the air it’s a perfect time to enjoy a plate of savory delicious pasta with a creamy roasted butternut squash sauce, bits of savory sausage and a healthy dose of spinach. It’s comfort food that captures fall flavors topped with shaved or grated Parmesan cheese. I guarantee you’ll find this dish irresistible and definitely worth your time. Recipe serves four and is an Ever Ready Special.

Cooking tips:

Early in the day roast the squash and refrigerate. Bake the Italian sausage at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Drain sausage and crumble.

Leftovers: Add warmed chicken broth to the dish.

Ingredients:

1 lb. (about 4 cups) butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2 inch cubes (some stores carry precut cubes)

2-1/2 TB. olive oil, divided

Salt and pepper to taste

A sprinkle each of Saigon cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice mix and paprika

1 TB. maple syrup

3/4 LB. ground Italian sausage or chicken sausage

3/4 cup sweet onions, diced

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 /4 tsp. ground sage

1 pinch red pepper flakes

2 cups dry tortellini

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 cups baby spinach leaves, torn

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with a silicone pad or parchment paper.

Peel the squash and cut into 2 inch cubes.

In a bowl, toss butternut squash cubes with 1-1/2 TB. olive oil, maple syrup along with salt and pepper. Spread out evenly on a baking sheet and sprinkle squash with cinnamon and paprika. Roast for 20 minutes or until fork tender. Once during baking time move cubes around.

Cook tortellini until al dente, then drain. Microwave chicken broth until hot.

Cook the sausage in a large sauce pan with 1 TB. olive oil, onions, garlic, sage and pepper flakes if using, Push crumbled meat mixture to the side and wipe pan clean.

Puree the roasted butternut squash along with hot broth in a blender. Return the puree mixture to the fry pan and mix well with cooked tortellini and meat mixture on a medium low heat. Add cream, Parmesan cheese and torn spinach leaves to the pan.  Cook until the cheese has melted and spinach has wilted. Serve warm with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Minnesota wild rice salad with cranberries, butternut squash and toasted pecans with a maple balsamic dressing

Cook’s notes: A splendid autumn salad which includes some of Minnesota’s very best natural ingredients. The combination of nutty wild rice, a simple maple dressing, and fresh herbs are not only delicious together, but their vibrant colors combine to make one stunning dish. Consider a time saver by making the wild rice ahead and toasting the pecans. The dressing can be easily doubled.

Cooking tip: 1 cup uncooked wild rice is equal to 4 cups cooked wild rice

Dressing ingredients:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil or Blood Orange Olive Oil

2 TB. pure maple syrup

2 TB. balsamic vinegar or Cranberry Pear Balsamic

1/4 tsp. sea salt

scant 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 TB. chopped fresh rosemary or ¼ tsp. dried rosemary

1 garlic clove, minced

Ingredients Salad:

2- 1/2 cups peeled and diced butternut squash

1- 1/2 TB. olive oil or Blood Orange Olive Oil

2 TB. balsamic vinegar

Sea salt and black pepper

4-5 cups torn baby spinach leaves or chopped romaine

1/2 cup thinly sliced leeks, both white and green parts or green onions

1 cup dried cherries or dried cranberries

1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil

3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans or cashews

4 cups cooked wild rice, warmed

Directions:

Place all dressing ingredients in a blender and mix well. Refrigerate until needed.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss squash with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread squash evenly on baking sheet and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

Roast squash for about 20 minutes or until fork tender, stirring once during the roasting time. Set aside.

In a measuring cup place dried cranberries or cherries. Pour boiling water over it and let set for 15 minutes. Drain.

In a large bowl, combine leeks or onions, cherries or cranberries, basil and wild rice. Stir dressing into salad; taste and adjust salt level if needed. Place mixture on spinach leaves or chopped Romaine. Top with toasted pecans. Serve dish at room temperature..

Twice a month The Seasonal Plate food column will highlight dishes inspired by the changing seasons. My passion for travel, poetry, writing, exploring new cuisines, trying recipes and cooking  have been inspiration for the recipes I have published on my blog http://www.sockfairies.blogspot.com.

Questions/comments at: theseasonalplate@outlook.com

Sue Ready is a writer, poet and former middle school teacher. She is the president of the Northwoods Arts Council in Hackensack. Sue publishes monthly dog stories called The World According to Bella at http://www.wwnrockport.com/

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