To start: Sorry for the hiatus! Some wickedly bad weather and a wonderful vacation have kept me from the blog for far too long. Why is it that when the weather is at its worst, I lose all my creative juices and turn back to the tried and true recipes? Maybe it’s because my body uses up all my energy just trying to stay warm; there’s nothing left when it gets time to cook dinner. Anyone else notice that?
Well, that plus the clean-out-the-fridge frenzy pre-vacation. You know. And, for the record, Scott and I had a wonderful trip to warm & sunny San Diego, where we enjoyed lots of beer (we made it to about 20 of their 80+ craft breweries), and told ourselves that what we were eating was relatively healthy. Except this dish of mac & cheese we got. Even we couldn’t lie to ourselves on that one. I did manage to eat avocado at least two meals a day. So that’s a win, right?
We came home to the remains of a storm that dropped a foot of snow on our area, most of which was basically packed ice by that point. And then this past weekend was deceptively warm; a couple of days where the mercury hit 60 (we grilled!!!) and most of the ice melted, just to plunge back to freezing and snow for several hours today. Mother Nature’s way of reminding us who’s really in charge here. Luckily, the snow was just for show. This time, at least.
But anyway, now I’m back and there are no holidays or vacations until (ugh!) Memorial Day weekend. With little to look forward to on the horizon, I must derive my pleasure from my dinner plate.
Or bowl, as the case may be.
This recipe is one I’ve had in the back of my mind for a while now, one of this first ideas I wrote down when I started this blog (gulp!) almost a year ago. I originally planned on using it as a pizza sauce but a long day at work coupled with a lack of planning ahead meant this got tossed with some pasta instead. Just as delicious, if I may say so myself, and plenty left over for when I do have time to make that crust. I tossed in a couple of sausages I had in the freezer, but if you wanted this to be vegetarian you could easily leave them out. Believe me, the sauce is substantial enough on its own.
This creamy, almost cheesy sauce almost begs for broccoli, though I think you could also toss in some roasted tomatoes (which I used), roasted red peppers, olives, artichokes, and/or spinach with delicious results. You might even be able to trick your
boyfriend kids into thinking it’s mac & cheese because of the brilliantly orange-y yellow color and creamy texture.
So here’s to spring, or at least a creative and colorful meal to trick you into thinking it just might almost be here.
Butternut Squash SaucePerhaps the best thing about this recipe is that by tweaking the amount of liquid and pureeing, you can take it from substantial side dish to soup. I really like this in between state, perfect for coating pasta or spreading onto pizza dough. A similar recipe in Bon Appetit (which partially served as inspiration) suggests kabocha squash has the best texture for pureeing, if you have one of those around instead. I love the flavor combination of the sweet, hearty squash with the tangy (maybe even slightly pungent?) feta — don’t skimp on quality — though goat’s milk cheese would also be wonderful. Makes about 3 cups.
- about 1 lb butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2″ cubes
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 4 oz. feta
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- about 1/2 cup milk or vegetable stock
- salt and pepper
- Steam squash and garlic cloves until the squash is fork-tender, on the stove top in a covered pan or in a covered dish in the microwave.
- Transfer squash and garlic to a blender. Add remaining ingredients (start with about 1/3 cup of milk and add more if you need it) and blend well. Alternatively, transfer ingredients to a mixing bowl and puree with an immersion blender.
To combine with pasta, add about 1/2 cup of sauce per serving of pasta. stir in a couple of tablespoons of pasta water (or milk, if you dumped your water already) to further thin the sauce if necessary.