Penne Pasta with Roasted Butternut Squash and Pecans

January 12, 2012 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes

Looking to make some pasta but wanting to kick it up a notch? Add some roasted butternut squash, toasted pecans and you’ve got it. The pecans add a crunchy texture into what would otherwise be “normal” pasta while the basil brings in a hint of spring that I’ve been longing for on these long winter nights. I used both fresh regular basil and some red leaf mixed in for good measure.

I’m a fan of butternut squash already peeled, cubed and ready to go.  The bright orange color and the sweet roasted flavor helped boost my mood on a cold winter’s evening. I suppose a bonus is the heated oven keeps things nice and toasty in the kitchen.

Penne Pasta with Roasted Butternut Squash and Pecans
By Megabeth

  • 1 package fresh cubed butternut squash
  • 16 oz whole wheat penne pasta
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 cup crushed pecans
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesean cheese
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425.

Spread butternut squash, onions and garlic cloves on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Roast for 40 to 45 minutes until butternut squash is golden. Add pecans to baking tray for the last 4 to 5 minutes to toast. (Watch onions to make sure they don’t burn.)

Meanwhile, make penne pasta per package directions and place in bowl. Toss roasted vegetables into pasta. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle with some cheese.

Sherried Butternut Squash Soup with Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

December 01, 2009 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes, Other

Sherried Butternut Squash Soup with Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

Oh boy did I need this soup. My bike commute home was wet, cold and miserable, but once I heated up this soup all became right with the world. The soup was smoky, savory and thick. Everything I needed to warm up from the cold ride. The spiced pumpkin seeds were a unique treat not normally seen on a weekday meal.

The original recipe came from the January 2009 issue of Vegetarian Times and asked for kabocha squash and pepitas. However, I wanted to use the last butternut squash I received from my vegetable deliveries. I also found some great looking pumpkin seeds at the organic market. So, I took the alternate path in making this recipe.

By the way, the first steps of the original recipe were to make the spiced seeds but I was able to make them when the soup was set to simmer.

And, finally, I’ll admit it…I accidentally used 2 Tablespoons instead of 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika in this preparation. But, you know, it actually came out really good! So, I don’t really consider it a mistake but a discovery. Yeah, that’s it.

Sherried Butternut Squash Soup with Spiced Pumpkin Seeds
Adapted from Vegetarian Times, January 2009

Soup
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced (1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp)
2 teaspoons smoked paprika (or, try it with 2 Tablespoons for a stronger flavor)
1 bay leaf
2 Tablespoons dry sherry
1 1/2 pound butternut squash (or kabocha squash), peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups low sodium vegetable broth

Spiced Seeds
1/2 cup pepitas or shelled pumpkin seeds
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 tsp agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt (omit if the pumpkin seeds are already salted)
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro (omitted in this preparation)

Sherried Butternut Squash Soup

Heat oil in large pot over medium high heat. Add onion, saute 5 to 7 minutes, then stir in garlic, smoked paprika, and bay leaf. Cook 1 minute more. (Note the 2 Tablespoons rather than 2 teaspoons of paprika I was supposed to put in…whoops!)

Sherried Butternut Squash Soup with Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

Add sherry, and cook 2 minutes. Add squash, vegetable broth, and 1 cup water. Bring to a simmer, cover, and reduce heat to mdium-low. Cook 25 minutes, or until squash is tender. (Note: While it’s simmering move on to making the spiced pumpkin seeds – recipe below.)

Sherried Butternut Squash Soup with Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

Sherried Butternut Squash Soup with Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

Remove bay leaf, and puree soup in food processor or blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Served sprinkled with spiced seeds.

Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (Note: I used my toaster oven.) Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss together pumpkin seeds (or pepitas), olive oil, agave nectar, paprika, and salt in small bowl.

Sherried Butternut Squash Soup with Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

Spread on prepared baking sheet, and bake 10 to 12 minutes turning occaisionally. (Note: Keep an eye on these guys because they’ll go from being nice and toasty to burned in 2 seconds flat.) Break pumpkin seeds apart, and toss with cilantro (if using).

Sherried Butternut Squash Soup with Spiced Pumpkin Seeds


Sherried Butternut Squash Soup with Spiced Pumpkin Seeds


A Vegetarian Fall Potluck on Halloween Night

November 02, 2009 By: Megabeth Category: Article, Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Snacks/Appetizers

On Halloween night, we held our first vegetarian potluck in Washington DC. The theme: Halloween/Fall Spooktacular.

For starters, I made some fig, pecan and goat cheese tapendade served with spooky halloween pita crisps as an appetizer. (This dish has now been deemed “Figgy Crack” because once you start eating it, it’s really really hard to stop.) I altered the recipe a bit and used crumbled goat cheese in the mix rather than spreading it on the pitas. For the pita crisps, I used whole wheat pita, used Halloween shaped cookie cutters, then pulled the layers apart. I brushed a little olive oil on each side, placed them smooth side down on a baking sheet and sprinkled them with some coarse salt. I put in a 300 degree oven for a few minutes until crisp. (Keep an eye on them, they quickly burn.)

fig tapenade

We had a side Autumn Millet Bake from Mark Bittman’s cookbook “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.”  This butternut squash, cranberry, pumpkin seed, and millet dish is both beautiful, sweet and savory. I would proudly add this unique side to any Thanksgiving table.

autumn millet bake

Our host then set the bar high by adapting this pumpkin stuffed with vegetable stew recipe from epicurious. She adapted some of the vegetables and saved some time by using some pre-made vegetable stock and added the mushrooms and wine to make it a bit heartier. I wish I had a picture of what the pumpkin looked like before it was baked because it was a pale in hue but blossomed into a gorgeous bronze color after baking. The pumpkin cooked perfectly and you could take hunks of the pumpkin from the insides which added a touch of roasted sweetness to the stew.

pumpkin with vegetable stew

Our desserts were cupcakes that were devoured so quickly….I didn’t get a picture!

We hope to hold our next potluck in December. I will be hosting and the theme will be Indian cuisine.

Restaurant Review: Butternut Squash, Chapel Hill, NC

October 03, 2009 By: Megabeth Category: Restaurant Review

Tucked behind an unassuming strip mall in the heart of Franklin Street, Butternut Squash is a new vegetarian restaurant in Chapel Hill that is worth the search. The food is fresh, the menu is diverse and the service was great. I went to this restaurant with my favorite carnivore curmudgeon. He was a little grumbly about the prospect of eating at a vegetarian restaurant, so I promised that if he walked away hungry after eating here I’d take him to go get a burger…

The restaurant is a little hard to find and I’m sure that they suffer from folks not knowing it’s even there. You have to go behind a building and scan a bit to find the doorway. It’s a small space with clean lines and was filled with sunshine on a Saturday morning. We came right when lunch was being served and only one other table was occupied. Within about 30 minutes, another two tables were filled so I’m sure that they can still fill the tables despite the awkward location.

Butternut Squash Restaurant Chapel Hill NC

Butternut Squash restaurant serves lunch and dinner and brunch on the weekends. When we got there, the items off the brunch menu were finished being served for the day, but the cheese grits and biscuits with vegan sausage gravy looked interesting to me. I’ll definitely come back to check them out.

The menu included a variety of small plate tapas including spinach pie, feta basil dip with peppers, and flash fried goat cheese. We started with the hummus and crispy fried tofu. The carnivore curmudgeon is a little afraid of tofu, but he happily consumed the freshly baked vegan rolls and olive oil that was brought to our table. I didn’t mind at all that he’s not a tofu fan because that left more tofu for the rest of us. It was perfectly fried, light and not a bit gooey. The hummus, served with ample pine nuts, was smooth and tangy. It went very well with the fried tofu.

Butternut Squash Restaurant Chapel Hill NC

Butternut Squash Restaurant Chapel Hill NC

Meanwhile, it was difficult to order our main dish due to the large variety of vegetarian and vegan items – pizza, burgers, pasta, sandwiches, hot wings, lettuce rolls, curry and more. There are also weekly farmers market specials, using fresh in-season ingredients, to add to the variety.

I ordered the farmers market special of rice tacos stuffed with eggplant, topped with a spicy salsa fresca, sounded really good. It was served with a giant spinach side salad with a fresh green dressing. (Yes, I forgot completely forgot to write down what kind of dressing it was. Perhaps that’s because I was starving and ready to dig in.)  The rice formed a unique taco “shell” that surrounded the rest of the ingredients. It was so good that I would have loved to have one more taco and a little less of the salad.

Butternut Squash Restaurant Chapel Hill NC

The pizza special was a whole wheat pizza base topped with olive oil, spinach, tomato, tempeh bacon, and cheddar cheese. The tempeh bacon added a smoky flavor to the dish and was quite satisfying and  I believe one comment at our table was, “The tempeh tastes like actual bacon! Taste it!”

Butternut Squash Restaurant Chapel Hill NC

The carnivore crumudgeon ordered the 3 cheese sandwich served with fresh herbs, tomatoes, red onion and avocado. He declared it a success…until he hit the pesto in the second half of the sandwich. It was as if the avocado in the one half was replaced with pesto. The avocado was gone. The curmudgeon is not a fan of pesto so it’s quite understandable about why it hit a sour note. In fact, the description on the menu said nothing about pesto (but perhaps it was the “fresh herbs”?)  The highlight of the whole meal came from a little unassuming side dish of red cabbage and carrots. For such a simple dish, it had really complex flavors.  It had an asian flavor to it provided by what we determined to be sesame seeds and sesame oil. I could have eaten much more of it but had to give up trying since it was served with the curmudgeon’s meal and he quickly laid claim to it.

Butternut Squash Restaurant Chapel Hill NC

The highest form of praise for a vegetarian restaurant is one where a carnivore curmudgeon can walk away full and satisfied. In fact, my curmudgeon never once mentioned that he wanted me to pay up on my offer to stop for a hamburger on the way home. In fact, he commented that when he comes back he’d order the 3 cheese sandwich – sans pesto. Oh, and he wanted to return to try the omelet for breakfast, too.

Success, indeed.

Butternut Squash
133E West Franklin Street
University Square, Chapel Hill, NC 27516


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