Chestnut and Squash Pasta
I’m not sure about where you are, but the temperature has definitely dipped here in the PNW. It adds to the feeling of the holiday season and makes me want to hunker down inside with something to warm my belly. This dish is hearty and perfect for this time of year as we move from fall towards winter.
Let’s get to it!
You’ll start by roasting the butternut squash. I think this is one of my favorite kinds of squash. It caramelizes a bit when roasted and has a slightly sweet flavor. It can be a little hard to cut because of its shape, but it’s totally worth the effort! Put the diced squash (2 cups will probably be about half of a squash) on a cookie sheet and toss with the olive oil. Bake in the oven for twenty to twenty-five minutes or until it’s fork tender.
Once the squash is done, take it out but leave the oven on. Get your water boiling for the pasta and cook it according to the package instructions. While your pasta is cooking, you’ll start on the sauce.
Melt the butter in a pan large enough to hold the pasta and everything else. Once the butter is melted, whisk in the flour.
You’re making a roux which is going to be the thickener for the white sauce. Once the flour is fully mixed with the butter, whisk another minute to cook the flour a bit and make sure you don’t have any lumps.
Now mix the milk and cream together and then slowly pour that into the pan with the roux while you continue to whisk. Once all of the milk and cream is added, continue to cook and whisk occasionally until the sauce starts to thicken. This sauce is called a Bechamel and is the foundation for things like Mac and Cheese. Now add a cup of the Gruyere and whisk until it’s melted. I like Gruyere for this dish because it has a nutty flavor that works with the chestnuts.
It’s time to put everything together. Put your cooked pasta in the sauce, along with the squash and chestnuts and give it all a big stir so that all the pasta is coated in the sauce. Make sure you stir up from the bottom so you’re getting all the sauce.
Now add the spinach. It’s going to look like a lot at first, but trust me it will shrink as it cooks down. Just pile it on top and stir it in. Spinach is one of those vegetables that I just buy the prepped bags. It can be a real pain to clean and I’d rather just buy the bag knowing the spinach has been cleaned properly.
Once everything is mixed together, pour it all in casserole dish.
Top with the rest of the shredded Gruyere and put it the oven to bake.
Bake for about ten minutes, or until the cheese is melted.
Serve warm. Depending on appetites, this will serve between four and eight people. We’ve been having it as entree but it would also be a nice side dish for roast chicken or fish. I also have it on good authority that it’s great reheated in the microwave the next day for lunch! 😉
The flavors of this pasta are “killer” as Derek would say. :). The sweetness of the chestnuts and squash is offset but the salty nuttiness of the Gruyere and the richness of the Bechamel sauce. The spinach also adds a note of freshness to tie the whole thing together.
- 2 cups diced Butternut squash
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound penne pasta
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/4 (half stick) butter
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 cup cream
- 2 1/2 cups shredder Gruyere cheese
- 1 pound chestnuts roasted and shelled
- 5 ounces spinach
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Toss squash with olive oil on a cookie sheet. Bake 20-25 minutes or until fork tender.
- Take squash out and leave oven on.
- Boil water and cook pasta according to package instructions.
- Melt butter in a large pan. Whisk in the flour. Once fully mixed, whisk another minute.
- Mix milk and cream together and slowly pour into pan with the roux while continuing to whisk. Continue to cook and whisk occasionally until sauce starts to thicken.
- Add 1 cup of Gruyere and whisk until melted.
- Put cooked pasta, chestnuts and squash in pan and stir so that all the pasta is coated in the sauce.
- Stir in spinach.
- Pour into a casserole dish and bake for about 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
- Serve warm.