Friday, April 16, 2010

Cavatappi with butternut squash, asparagus, and peas (plus the winner of the Spring Chicken Giveaway)

I once discussed with a friend how there are certain types of dishes that you can make almost anything into. "Pasta, salad, or stir-fry--you can make anything into one of those!" this friend said, and he was right. I'd also add soup to the list. How well these off-the-cuff concoctions turn out is another thing altogether, but with a little skill, knowing your own tastes, and occasionally stealing from other people's recipes, you can often turn out something quite delightful, even with an unusual pairing of ingredients.

Take this pasta I made the other night. I had some peeled and cubed butternut squash from Trader Joe's that I was contemplating roasting, as squash generally wants to be roasted. But then I remembered what a lovely surprise it was last fall when I made this pasta which called for steaming and pureeing the squash into a creamy sauce. I decided to crib Giada's idea for the squash but tweak the other components.

The method is: saute some squash with oil, salt, and pepper. Add some broth, cover, and steam it until soft. Then puree it in a food processor.

When I'd transformed the squash into a bright orange puree, I tossed in some asparagus that I'd roasted separately, as well as a handful of frozen peas, and a pound of cavatappi. But it needed something more. So I rooted around in the fridge and found some ricotta that needed to be used up. In went half a cup, a hefty grating of parmesan, and a little pasta water to make it just right. A sprinkle of chives (my go-to garnish!) and I was done. Not bad for an impromptu weeknight pasta!

There was something else I was going to say...

Oh yes, the winner of the spring chicken giveaway. Thank you to everyone who entered! What fun it was to read all of your responses. I had a hard time choosing with such great entries, but the prize goes to HollowPeas, who wrote:  

I am going to go against the 'flowers and grass and birds' grain here and say my favorite part about spring is the thunderstorms. It is honestly one of my favorite times to spend all day in the kitchen. I crack open the windows so I can hear the rain and the thunder and spend all day baking bread or roasting a chicken, something warm and comforting. The bonus is the next day when it smells like fresh rain and everything is green and vibrant.

HollowPeas, drop me an email with your mailing address and CSN will have your gorgeous Le Creuset roasting pan in the mail to you quick as a wink.

Everyone else, thanks for playing!


  1. AH!! Thank you so much!! I am so very excited to use this pan, it pays to be a fan of Hungry Dog blog huh?

    And can I say that pasta looks phenomenal, I love pureed butternut squash on ANYTHING. Maybe I will make this, and serve it in my brand new gorgeous baking dish!

  2. Congrats to the winner :). So, since I didn't win can I have some of that delicious pasta as a consolation prize? It looks delish!
    Have a great weekend daaaaaaahling.
    *kisses* HH

  3. This dish sounds wonderful and it looks so fresh and appetizing!

  4. I like this! And, yes, by absorbing the principles of the recipe, I can now go improvise. Lovely.
    Congratulations to HollowPeas.

  5. The colors are so pretty together. Congrats to the winner :)

  6. Mmmm, it looks so colorful and delicious. Would never have thought about pureeing squash into a sauce!
    Congrats to HollowPeas! I will think about you and HD while eating the very Spring-y rhubarb crostata I plan on making this weekend. - Pete

  7. great idea! not only does the squash provide a really unique color and flavor, but it also contrasts so nicely with the peas! you do good work on the spur of the moment. :)

  8. Congrats HollowPeas!

    So right about turning almost anything into pasta - we had sausage and cherry tomato pasta tonight. Love your take on butternut squash, sounds absolutely delicious.

  9. thunderstorms always sound so romantic... I once got to see some lightning out on the prairie while visiting the inlaws, it was awesome! Your pasta looks lovely too.

  10. HollowPeas: You are most welcome! Enjoy the pan!

    HH: Absolutely. Come on over... :)

    Domestic Adventurer: Yes, it was very springy1

    cookiecrumb: Isn't it versatile? I love the idea of squash as a creamy sauce.

    tamilyn: thanks!

    Pete: I'm going to email you for that crostata recipe, I just bought some rhubarb yesterday!

    grace: oh, thank you. I do enjoy throwing things together now and then.

    shaz: your pasta sounds delicious too!

    foodhoe: That sounds gorgeous and dramatic!

  11. I love the colors! I've made soup from roasted veggies, but never pasta. What a great idea!

    And congrats to the winner!

  12. Looks awesome! I love butternut squash, but never would have tought to use it as a sauce. And then the roasted asparagus... love the winetr-to-spring nature of the dish!

  13. ooh, excellent answer for spring! And what an equally excellent dish to celebrate the new greenery! I've been obsessed with asparagus lately, mostly because it's the only time of year when it's affordable, so I buy it like crazy!

  14. Barbara: I know, I'm in love with the colors of this dish too.


    Camille: How true, I didn't even think of that.

    wasabi: I'm a little obsessed with asparagus too. I find it hard to resist!

  15. Congratz HollowPeas! The sauce sounds awesome, I'll have to try making one with pureed squash too.

  16. First, congrats to Hollow Peas because she has one fabulous gift item coming her way-not too mention, I loved what she said too.

    Cheers to you for that pasta dish. Now, that is reflective of a creative person that can create such a culinary delight with what's in the pantry and the refrigerator. I really like the idea of simmeringa nd softening the squash and then pureeing it. I am going to remember that!

    As always, love your blog posts. I am either smiling, laughing or learning or all three at the same time while reading. :-)

  17. Bob: give it a try, I think you would like it.

    Velva: Aw, thanks for your kind words! I love your blog too!

  18. mmm this looks so comforting. And I love the idea of blending the squash into the sauce.

  19. Sophie: Thanks!

    E & J: Give it a try, it's a great, creative method, and healthy too--gives you a creamy sauce without the cream!

  20. So it really works? The CSN, they contacted me also, but I've yet to blog.
    Nice recipe, sounds like something that would go down well over here.
    That's my favorite way of cooking, shooting from the hip.