Our entire family is vegetarian except for little Aria and me so Meatless Monday isn't something out of the ordinary in our household. It’s part of an effort on my part to eat a little bit healthier by reducing our meat consumption. If we can hit two targets with one bullet, I want to go for it. And since I'm keeping a strict vegetarian diet this week with the beginning of the Vietnamese Tết celebrations (a tradition of Tết is that you eat vegetarian (ăn chay) on the last day of the previous year and first day of Asian New Year), it's perfect timing for this..
I prepared roasted butternut squash and mixed in cooked radiatore pasta. It's super easy to prepare and if you want to be on the healthier side, you can completely omit the cheese from the sauce.
Servings: 6 servings
1 (12-ounce) package radiatore pasta
1 butternut squash
1 (7-ounce) package enoki mushrooms
, trimmed, separated and cut into thirds
4 tablespoons olive oil
½ yellow onion, finely chopped
2 sprigs thyme
2½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon white pepper, freshly ground
2 tablespoons aged Cheddar cheese, freshly grated
2 tablespoons curly parsley, chopped
Prepping the butternut squash:
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Trim the butternut squash and slice it crosswise. Remove the seeds and the strings (if any). Place the slices of butternut squash on a greased baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons salt and pepper. Roast for about 35 minutes. Reserve a few pieces for garnish. Let cool, peel, and dice the butternut squash; set aside.
For the radiatore pasta:
Bring about 5 quarts of water to a boil. Add the radiatore pasta, bring back to a boil, then immediately lower the heat to a gentle boil. That way the pasta will cook evenly all the way through. Cook the pasta for about 12 minutes total. Salt the water half-way through the cooking process (it will bring out the natural flavor of the pasta and it will be more tender) and keep stirring every now and then so the pasta doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot. It may take longer than the cooking time that's written on the box. When the pasta is cooked (cooked inside and out but still in shape and firm), reserve about ½ cup of pasta water and drain the pasta (do NOT rinse). Transfer to a large flat platter. You can also skip this step and transfer the pasta directly to the sauté pan.
In the same pan, heat the rest of the oil. Add the chopped onions, thyme and radiatore pasta. Stir until well incorporated. Add about ¼ cup of pasta water (or more) and the Cheddar cheese. Toss the pasta for about 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. If the pasta starts sticking to the bottom, add more pasta water. Add thef butternut squash. Toss well for about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add parsley. Adjust seasoning. Gently stir the pasta. Remove and discard the thyme. Sprinkle with more cheese, cover and let stand until you're ready to serve.
Garnish with parsley and decorate the serving plate with the reserved butternut squash.
You can store the pasta in the refrigerator if you make the dish in advance. Just make sure to remove it from the refrigerator and let it stand at room temperature 30 minutes before sautéing in the pan.
If you're a pasta lover, check out my other pasta dishes.