Saturday, November 15, 2014

Pasta with Kale, Squash, and Blue Cheese

Saying "I love pasta" seems like kind of a generic statement, because really, who doesn't love pasta?  It's carby, chewy, comforting, and filling, comes in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors, and more and more lately, made from a wide variety of healthy ingredients.  I love a plate of spaghetti smothered in marinara just as much as the next person, but chunky pasta with veggies and cheese will always take first place in the great pasta battle, in my opinion.

"Pasta with veggies and cheese" is one of those meals I feel like I don't even really need a recipe for -- boil up some pasta, cook up some veggies, add some cheese, and call it dinner.  Am I right?  However, I felt like I had to share this recent "pasta with veggies and cheese" meal I made, because it was just so darn delicious, so perfectly balanced in all of its complimentary flavors, I couldn't help but want to shout from the rooftops, "I MADE PASTA!  WAHOO!"

Since I don't actually know how to access the roof of my building, you get a blog post instead.

Enjoy.  :)

Pasta with Kale, Squash, and Blue Cheese
serves 2 to 4

1 lb butternut squash
1 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
6 oz chunky pasta
1 bunch lacinato kale, stemmed and sliced thinly
1/4 cup reserved pasta water
4 oz blue cheese
2 oz walnuts, toasted and chopped
extra-virgin olive oil (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Peel and dice the squash into bite-sized chunks.  Toss with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Spread the squash out on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast, stirring once, about 20 to 30 minutes, or until the squash is soft and beginning to brown.  Reserve.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook, stirring frequently.  Three minutes before the pasta will finish cooking, dip out 1/4 cup pasta cooking water and add the kale to the pasta pot.  Stir, and continue cooking until the kale is tender and the pasta is al dente.
3. Drain the pasta and kale, and return to the pot.  Add the blue cheese and reserved pasta water, if needed, and stir, allowing the cheese to melt and make a creamy sauce.  Fold in the squash.
4. Divide the pasta among plates or bowls, and top with the walnuts.  Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, if you would like.  Serve immediately.  Devour enthusiastically.

This is a pasta for lovers of blue cheese.  However, in my opinion, the dish is quite balanced, with creamy, salty, pungent, sweet, and bitter flavors all present in equal amounts, and lots of contrast between soft, crunchy, toothsome, and chewy textures.  I LOVE it.  I hope you do, too!  (If you don't love blue cheese, you could likely try goat cheese, or add a big dollop of whole-milk ricotta to each plate before serving.  Both would also be delicious.)

What is your favorite "pasta with veggies and cheese" combination?

1 comment:

Eileen said...

Yay! Kale & pasta high five! I like pretty much every vegetable with my pasta -- the more the merrier, right? Even cabbage can make an appearance and I'll still be happy.