creamy butternut squash + aged gouda baked ziti

creamy butternut squash + aged gouda baked ziti

It might still be 90 degrees in Texas and as hard as it is for me to let summer go, it’s time to move into fall. I’ve officially declared it. And while you can pretty much get butternut squash year-round, it’s starting to move towards its peak flavor and becoming more readily available at farmer’s markets all over. I’m a huge fan of using meatless Mondays as a way to explore delicious veggies and this meal is both comforting and vegetarian friendly. The recipe starts with butternut squash that is roasted until golden brown which is then added to sweet onion lightly cooked in butter, garlic, cream, milk, parmesan and a small amount of smoked paprika which is blended until smooth to create an incredibly rich and flavorful sauce which is then tossed with our cooked ziti, layered with grated gouda, topped with herby-parmesan breadcrumbs and tossed under the broiler until golden. Basically a fall-inspired mac n’ cheese and there’s absolutely nothing I would rather curl up and eat during some rainy weather than delicious baked pasta.


BUTTERNUT SQUASH-GOUDA BAKED ZITI:
serves 4-6

1 lb ziti pasta
3 cups cubed butternut squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, grated
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated pepper
2 cups grated aged gouda cheese

1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon dried herbs (your choice, I used herbs de provence)
2 tablespoons grated parmesan
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preheat an oven to 450 degrees F. Toss butternut squash with olive oil, salt and pepper and spread out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil. Roast for 35-40 minutes until golden brown all over, tossing halfway through the baking. Set aside until cool.

Cook ziti pasta according to package instructions, drain and rinse. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat and add diced onion. Cook, stirring regularly until onions are soft. Add grated or finely chopped garlic, cream, milk and butternut squash. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a blender, add parmesan and blend until smooth. Grease an 8x8 or 9” circle baking dish. Toss pasta with sauce and spread half the pasta in the bottom of your baking dish. Sprinkle with half the grated gouda, top with remaining pasta and sprinkle the top with more gouda. In a small bowl, mix together bread crumbs, olive oil, herbs, parmesan, salt and pepper until oil is evenly distributed. Top pasta with bread crumbs. Place under oven broiler on low until bread crumbs are golden brown.

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