Butternut Squash and Parsnip Baked Pasta

18 Jan

I’ve tried to make it a point to use more seasonal ingredients in my cooking this year. There are a couple very good reasons for this: #1 Taste is greatly improved #2 It’s much cheaper. During this process I’ve discovered several ingredients that I’d never used before, but really enjoyed. Two of these newly discovered ingredients are included in this recipe: butternut squash and parsnips. Butternut squash is naturally sweet and smooth in texture. It tastes especially good when roasted and/or caramelized as it is in this dish. Parsnips have also become one of my favorite things. They look and taste a lot like carrots, but have a more complex  flavor. More earthy perhaps? I’m not very good as describing flavors. All I know is, I love parsnips.

This recipe turned out to be slightly fussy. I’m pretty sure I used every pot in my cupboard at once and was constantly stirring this or that. I really liked the blend of flavors from the squash, parsnips,  onions, and spices, but there was one thing I would change to improve the end result. The recipe says to bake this for 30 minutes, which was fine, except the noodles that were on top became crunchy and dried out. I think covering this with a sheet of tin foil while baking would have made this much better. On a positive note, the reheated leftovers were delicious and the sauce didn’t separate and get all weird. This was a nice option for a Meatless Monday meal.

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12 Responses to “Butternut Squash and Parsnip Baked Pasta”

  1. junie January 18, 2011 at 9:13 pm #

    Yum! That dish sounds totally fab. (Did you serve spinach with almonds on the side?) I’m entertaining speculative thoughts about upcoming dinner possibilities that include that recipe ‘cuz we just HAPPEN to have parsnips from the local organic delivery that have been sitting in the fridge for TWO WEEKS. I think you posting this tonight might be a sign (from Jesus, of course :D) that we are supposed to try this recipe.

    OH MY GOD I just read the name of this dish aloud to Paul and he pointed out we also HAVE SQUASH.

    AND examining the photo, I’m thinking I’m seeing that there’s CHEESE in it. I think I might just have to make squash-and-parsnip-flavored baked CHEESE sometime soon.
    With “various flavorings.” Like wonderfulness and joy. And something hot, like habanero? Or pepper flakes.

    I ALSO want to say, I am SO samesies with you about the Eating Seasonally thing. I’ve actually been really surprised by the experience. A lot of benefits I never expected. Like you said, there’s far better flavor–and way cheaper–AND also!: the bonanza of the produce usually not having to travel as far, so you’re not eating old, preserved food and not paying for it to be transported from… wherever they make all the food. I’m finding that it feels… refreshing and almost more CLEAN to eat more of what’s in season. I mean… refreshing as in, like natural and vibrant. Or maybe I mean, just, “yumsters.” (Plus I have discovered, to my astonishment, that I just CRAVE squash in winter. And have long eaten mounds of FRUIT in summer. And I’ve discovered the joys of… well, this might sound weird… but I like mild deprivation. Cuz I seem to look forward to stuff much more if I’ve been deprived of it, for the most part, in the off-season. When it returns, I’m like, Oh, HEY, it’s YOU again! I LOVE YOU, CHERRIES! OMG I adore YOU, sweet ripe CANTALOPE! So nice to SEE you, PUMPKIN! Etc.)

    Final note: the main reason I’m commenting right now is that I saw this entry within FIFTEEN minutes of you posting it! Thrills.

    • Karen @ Gravy Training January 19, 2011 at 8:14 am #

      Thank you Junie! I think you more accurately captured my feelings about the seasonal eating.I wasn’t quite sure if I was making sense so I’m glad you expounded on the idea. And I totally get what you’re saying about sort of forgetting about all the non-seasonal stuff and then being surprised and delighted when it pops up again! Isn’t that the best? Although there is one thing I never forget about: tomatoes. I pine for them year round and constantly wish I had some fresh tomatoes from the garden. I need to get another magic space garden…

      • junie January 19, 2011 at 7:09 pm #

        [And any curious Gravy Training followers who might have stumbled across this series of comments. Are there any of you out there who read these comments? Say Hi if so! Kay, does the ‘puter tell you if people click on the comment page? And if so, does it tell you if they laugh while they read it? Or snort in anger and disgust? I wanna know… ANYWAY, whoever you comment-readers are, if you indeed exist, I want to warn those of you with delicate ears that a swear may happen in this. Not anything crazy, but, yeah, just so you know…]

        So, Kay–
        You DO need to get another magic space garden! Totally! I think everyone needs at least one, and supercooks like you need several, don’t you think?

        I know what you mean about not-forgetting about certain kinds of food and pining for them in the off-season. 😦 So so sad. There are fruits–like cantalopes, or all the berries except strawberries–that I just have to NOT think about during winter or I go a bit crazy. (Strawberries even in season taste like cardboard, usually… except these kkkkCRAZY small organic strawberries that I found last year that are grown locally… they’re more like wild strawberries? And they start to grow smooshy almost instantly so you have to eat massive tons of them right away but they’re AMAZING.)

        And I think tommytoes are like strawberries: once you’ve had an amazingly good one, you’re ruined for the cardboard crap. (I actually mean shit. Or do I? I wouldn’t ACTUALLY eat shit. So maybe I do mean crap.)

        ANYWAY, so, as you might suspect, your Wish is my Command and I’ve been thinking a lot about prepping and sending to you the 4 or 5 photos of food creations I’ve made, that you asked about and wanted to see… I know Paul made it sound like there were MILLIONS of things I’d invented… and I HAVE been shockingly inventive starting months ago, but, a lot of the time it’s like, I’ll make an old standby but flavor it differently. I’ve been experimenting a lot but not making up an ENTIRE NEW DISH from SCRATCH every SINGLE MINUTE! Not like Paul made it sound. And some stuff wasn’t amazing. Okay, I lie. It was ALL amazing. BUT, so, there have been only a few things I invented more-or-less from scratch, AND I took pics pretty much of all of them because I HAD to show you (I might have missed one, but I don’t even remember what was in it or if I’d make it again, so, no loss)… BUT Paul has been campaigning like CRAZY for me to submit the photos AND recipes for you to try out and post on your blog, per your invitation…

        And THAT is what has been slowing me down. Because I’ve never written out an entire recipe in my life–it sounds a little bit hard, at least the first time–and I’d have to think pretty hard about some of the details, because I’m not sure about the amounts of things… (My approach, honestly, without editing for readers who like to know AMOUNTS, would be like this: first look in the fridge. Get out your veggies. Put away the ones that won’t taste good together. Look at how many veggies are left and use that to decide how many onions to put in. Start chopping onions, because that is the most fun any person can have… Then, okay, prepare to put in all the zucchini you have, unless it looks like WAY too much… Okay, now, go out to the garden and grab all the ripe tomatoes and bring them inside and prep all of them and put all of those in… Okay, wait, only, you don’t want to put in too many, you might want to save a few for that other thing you were going to make later this week… and you might not have enough of the other stuff… Okay, just put in as many as you need… :D)

        AND, the last thing that’s hard is, I think maybe not all of the pics are on the computer. So. I want Paul to help me. But I am really looking forward to sharing that stuff with you. I’m curious to find out when I’ll get to it. 🙂

        Oh! Oh! AND I want the recipes to be MAKE-ABLE! AND THE ONE I WAS GOING TO SEND FIRST INVOLVES LOTS OF TOMATOES! So there’d be no point to even TRY it until tomatoes are in season again.

        Because I really, really, really don’t want you to have to eat shit.

        That would not be magical.


        The End.

        p.s. I love you, have I told you that lately? I do.

    • Karen @ Gravy Training January 19, 2011 at 8:17 am #

      Oh yeah, also, I made some creamed spinach with PUMPKIN SEEDS to go with the pasta. I made up the recipe all by myself from the FLAVOR BIBLE! I thought it turned out pretty good, but then I was scared the creamed spinach police would tell me I did it wrong so I didn’t post the recipe. And mainly it tasted like sauteed spinach. 😀

      • junie January 19, 2011 at 7:16 pm #

        Mmm. Pumpkin seeds! That’s AWESOME! The spinach on the side looked really great and yummy to me. All spinachy and glisteny. I bet the pumpkin seeds were a perfect touch… what with the root veggies/squash theme.

        Paul calls dinners like that our “vitamin meals.” Especially the other day when the dish we were having(that I INVENTED :)) was primarily made of tofu and kale. It was good, and lo, you could practically SMELL the nutrients! It’s the kinda meal that begs to be followed by a huge bowl of ice cream.

        Seriously. I mean, you wouldn’t want to accidentally turn into a rabbit, due to a vitamin overdose. It happens. I’ve seen it on the internet. Seriously.

      • Karen @ Gravy Training January 20, 2011 at 8:21 am #

        Lol “SMELL the nutrients.” Don’t worry Junie, I always make sure to eat dessert, just to be sure there will be no rabbity transformations 😀

  2. junie January 19, 2011 at 11:39 pm #

    Okay, this feels ridiculous, but I want to say one more thing. After nearly two years of having a cooler’s worth of produce delivered to my door each week–and having to cook most meals with mostly seasonal ingredients (excluding, of course, the protein and your odd bit of pasta etc.)… My main feeling, as a result of all of this seasonal eating, is one of awed Gratitude.

    I didn’t know I would feel this way. And I had no idea how STRONGLY I would feel this. I’m so, so, so USED to just getting whatever I want from the Store! How can you improve on that? (In lots of ways, you can’t. I love me my grapefruit in winter. And my constant supply of chocolate!)

    But what I now feel is such thankfulness to the Harvest, to what the Earth is providing… It has made me feel a strong new sort of kinship with country folks who jam and jelly and can the harvest. Nothing is wasted, and you’re… like… preparing yourself to receive what is offered and to appreciate it. With gratefulness and GUSTO.

    THE (final) END.

    p.s. I think gratitude came to mind a moment ago, prompting me to make this final ridiculous addition, because I just ate my first fresh pumpkin. It was amazing. Actually… at first it was kinda disgusting, because bitter. But then I made it amazing, with only a little bit of milk & butter & sugar. But the secret ingredient was cinnamon. I love squash with butter and brown sugar… but I’ve never seen the need for a counter-the-bitter sweet spice. NOW I GET IT.

    Live and learn! And love. Love pumpkin, that is.

    • Karen @ Gravy Training January 20, 2011 at 8:37 am #

      See this is what I love about you! It’s so great you guys are into the whole seasonal/fresh ingredients thing. We tried the co-op vegetable thing once, but it was such a hassle and we had to go stand outside in the freezing cold in a huge line early in the morning ON THE WEEKEND. And there was just too much food for us to handle. BUT, wouldn’t it be so great to have that weekly delivery and be able to can it or preserve it in some way? And have extras to eat all year long? As soon as I have some extra space, I’m totally getting all suited up with a load of canning supplies.

      • junie January 20, 2011 at 2:39 pm #

        I’m sorry, but standing outside in the cold… on the WEEKEND… GOD, wait, did you also say MORNING? F me, but that is UNPOSSIBLE.

        There is no way any human person could do that.

        Maybe our delivery people would start making an extra weekly trip to your neck of the woods, just ‘cuz you’re so awesome? It could happen. More believably possible than the coldy morning bad unweekendy horrors you described.

        Hey, and I’m glad that the local organic seasonal blah blah blah is one of the things you love about us! It’s one of the many many things I love about us, too. 😀

        One of the main-est things I love about you & Seth is that you’re both kind and accepting. And have active senses of humor. I can’t think of a way to make that amusing… it’s just true. Hey, is there a heart emoticon? I thought I saw one, once. (> That’s not right. Calysta was the person who showed me how to do emoticon faces, like smiles and grins. I wish she were here tutoring me right now.

        Anyway, i heart u.


  3. Paul January 26, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

    Testing, testing. HJ – heart is parathesis, capitol L, paranthensis, I think. (L)

    • Paul January 26, 2011 at 12:46 pm #


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