Friday, November 14, 2008

Reliving Pasta Successes

I've been hankering for butternut squash all week. I have a few left from this year's CSA shares, and I'm just now getting to the point where squash sounds really, really good.

I had visions of making a rice and kale dish to stuff in the squash for roasting, but when the Renaissance Man proposed a movie night for this evening, I decided to fall back on an old favorite.

It's been nearly a year since I made Bri's squash macaroni and cheese, and it has been on my mind the past couple of weeks since her death because its combination of traditional comfort and innovative nutrition exemplified what she did in so much of her cooking.

So early this morning, while getting myself ready for work, I roasted the squash and then pureed it with plain yogurt to add to the eventual sauce. I pulled all the ingredients together and handed them off to the Renaissance Man before walking to work for the day.

After work, he graciously drove me out to the local grist mill so that I could pick up my grain order for the winter (more on that later). The mill owner, a mischievous but very kind and generous older fellow, teased me about the huge quantities of flour I had purchased, but he also filled bags with apples and pears from their trees to share with us. He even sent us home with some dried pears, which were so sweet and delicious that they almost didn't make it all the way back!

Once we settled back in, I whisked together the bechamel sauce and added both cheese and squash to make a rich, thick coating for a pan full of rotini pasta. I added a sprinkling of bread crumbs and cheese to the top and slid it into the oven before we started the evening's movie selection.

Half an hour or so later, we stopped the movie to pull dinner from the oven -- so fragrant! -- and to whip up a side dish.

I used the last of my farmers' market spinach and the last picking of kale from the garden, simply steaming it and tossing it with a little butter, for a striking side dish.

We sat back, picked up where we left off on the movie, and savored every bite of deliciously comforting pasta and vegetables, enjoying how they warmed us on a cool night.

Once again I ended up with sauce left over (not to mention the rest of the finished dish), so I'm sure I'll heat that up and toss it with some of the whole wheat pasta I have at home early next week.

And it was -- and will be -- every bit as good as the pasta time I made it.

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At 11/18/2008 8:59 AM, Blogger Tara said...

You know, usually I don't like big gooey mac and cheese things, but this looks positively heavenly. It makes me think smooth and silky, not gloppy and greasy. Thanks for sharing!

At 11/18/2008 9:24 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

It is VERY good, Tara -- think velvety. I never get the squash fully pureed, so there are occasional chunks that remind you of the vegetable goodness. And I usually end up using plain nonfat yogurt instead of cottage cheese to blend with the squash -- either way, you can make it a little lighter.

Oh, and I don't use quite as much cheese as she indicated -- still very good.


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