Try This— Penne With Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese

This Fall inspired variation on the classic Cacio e Pepe is the ultimate comfort food.

Maybe I’m unlucky in life, but the entire time I was in Rome this summer, I didn’t have one single incredible food moment. The stars aligned and I was truly blessed enough to travel around Europe. We spent a full week in the Eternal City, and I could barely contain my excitement about sampling the food. In fairness, I had heard so much about how great the food in Rome was that I probably built it up in my head until my expectations could never be satisfied. After crawling around Rome from Monti to Trastevere looking for delicious food, I finally just gave up. Our last night in Rome, we stayed in and I made this Cacio e Pepe dish in the kitchen of our vacation rental.

Since being back, I’ve been so over Italian food. I don’t know if it has anything to do with my experience in Rome, but I just haven’t really had that Italian food craving that has been an ever present part of my life. Anyway, this weekend I suddenly had that old Italian food itch that I’ve been missing so much, and I decided to make this Fall inspired cacio e pepe I discovered on Food Network. The subtle sweetness of butternut squash paired with the tartness of goat cheese is a game changer. You must try this!!!

Penne With Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese

Ingredients

  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 1 (2-pound) butternut or kabocha squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1 onion, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1 packed cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan

Directions

  1. Put an oven rack in the upper third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Spray a baking sheet, liberally, with vegetable oil cooking spray. Set aside.
  3. Mix the squash and onion together and arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bake for to 40 to 45 minutes until the vegetables are golden and cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.
  4. While the squash mixture is cooling, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 2 cups of the pasta water. Put the pasta, goat cheese and 1 cup of pasta water in a large serving bowl. Toss until the cheese has melted and forms a creamy sauce. Add the squash and onion mixture, the walnuts and the basil. Toss well and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with Parmesan and serve.

Try This— Classic Homemade Cacio e Pepe

I’m heading out on another European adventure this Summer. First stop: Rome. This will be my first time visiting the Eternal City  and while I imagine the Sistine Chapel is really impressive, I’m mostly looking forward to dining out on really real Italian food. Everybody I know is telling me that I have to try cacio e pepe while I’m there. Cacio e pepe, literally translating to ‘cheese and pepper’, is standard Roman fare, and if the name is any indication, it sounds like it’s as close to perfection as food can get because, well, cheese and pepper.

Anyway, I scoured the internet for a recipe that I could prepare at home so that I when I try it in Rome, I can slowly lean back at the table, loosen my jeans button, and arrogantly say, “the cacio e pepe I make at home is waaaayyyyy better.” #petty. So, I found this amazing recipe from the fine folks at Food52, and I’m pretty confident that this dish will hold up against any cacio e pepe I order in Rome. For real, this recipe is real life weeknight dinner goals. You must try this!

Classic Homemade Cacio e Pepe

ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns crushed in a mortar and pestle or 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 1 (16 oz) package spaghetti
  • 3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • About 3/4 to 1 cup of cooking water

Directions

  • In a pot over low heat, heat the crushed peppercorn with the olive oil.
  • In a pot large enough to cook the spaghetti, bring water to a boil.
  • Turn the heat off under the olive oil and add about 1/2 cup of the hot cooking water from the pot into the pan, then set aside.
  • When the pasta water comes to a rolling boil, add the salt, stir, then add the spaghetti. Cook the spaghetti until 2 minutes under the lowest time recommended on the package. Using tongs (you don’t want to get the rid of the water), add the pasta to the pot with the pepper. Turn the heat onto very low and turn the pasta continuously until most of the water is absorbed. At this point, remove from the heat and transfer to a warm bowl.
  • Still tossing, begin adding the two grated cheeses, a couple handfuls at a time. If it starts to get dry, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of pasta water. Keep turning and turning, adding cheese and pasta water, a little at a time, until all the cheese has been incorporated and you have a lovely creamy sauce coating each strand of pasta. Eat immediately.

 

Try This— Root to Stalk Cooking

I don’t want to look back on my life and think, I could’ve eaten that. Anyone that’s ever tended their own vegetable garden, or paid those hefty price tags for organic vegetables knows the pain of throwing those perfectly green stalks into the compost heap. The amount of care we take and the amount of money we spend to have fresh, organic vegetables in our kitchens is reason enough to adopt the philosophy of root to stalk cooking. The most convincing reason though is that we’ve been robbing ourselves of some pretty vital nutrients and unexpectedly rich flavors without even knowing it. While every home cook knows that vegetable scraps can make the perfect broth, it’s totally easy to overlook the other awesome root to stem cooking techniques. You must try this!

Cauliflower doesn’t have to be cut into florets. Instead, you can slice straight through the stem to create ‘cauliflower steaks’ to roast in the oven or sear in a pan with tomatoes, black olives, and capers

Leeks have those dark green tops that take longer to cook, but transform into a braising green with a slight onion flavor that gives a richness to egg dishes

Beet greens look and taste like a cross between beets and chard (earthy and sharp) and are delicious sautéed and added to a whole-grain salad (think quinoa or cous cous) with pickled beets, goat cheese, and walnuts

Radishes come with peppery-tasting leaves that you can use as salad greens tossed with sweet corn, tomatoes, and a creamy dressing, along with the radishes themselves.

Broccoli stalks used to never make it to my plate. But the silky, dark leaves surrounding broccoli stalks cook like spinach and taste like the sweetest broccoli you’ve ever had. The stalk itself can be peeled leaving the sweet and crunchy part of the stem which is just a perfect addition to a stir fry

Fennel fronds and stems are sweeter than the white bulbs and have a stronger anise flavor. If you like licorice, you can thinly slice the stems and candy them, or head in a savory direction and toss them in a salad with sliced fennel bulbs, shaved Parmesan, lemon juice, and olive oil

These tips and more delicious recipes can be found in Tara Duggan’s Root to Stalk Cooking available on Amazon.

Try This—Loaded Sweet Potato With Lime Cream

There’s  almost nothing more gratifying than straight up feasting on healthy food that you prepared with your own hands. I love to know what is actually in the food I’m eating (I’m giving the side eye to you, Monsanto), and I like to be able to pronounce all the ingredients. Admittedly, clean eating can be a challenge when you’re exhausted… on a weeknight… and super hungry… and just want to chill. I know the feeling. You guys, bad things happen when I’m too tired to cook. I gravitate toward bad-for-you quick fixes that are overprocessed, full of empty calories, and totally lacking nutritional value. I’m left feeling weighed down and even more tired. This recipe though! This is my go-to, weeknight, clean-eating, lazy girl recipe.

I really try to stick to clean foods. Foods that are delicious in their natural state and don’t need a ton of barbecue sauce to make them edible. Most of all, I try to stick to foods that give you more bang for your buck. Those foods that fill you up and keep you satiated, all for a reasonable price. How can we go wrong with sweet potatoes, avocados, and beans? For real, these ingredients practically scream fiesta without the guilt and certainly without the huge price tag. Clean-eating ingredients, seriously filling at a low cost, quick cook time, and gourmet style presentation are really our #squadgoals here, y’all. This recipe certainly ticks all of those boxes. You must try this!!!

Loaded Sweet Potato With Lime Cream

ingredients

For the filling

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 white onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloved garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked pinto beans (if canned, rinsed and salt-free)
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tbsps tomato paste
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • salt

For the Lime Cream

  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • water, if desired

Optional Garnishes

  • cilantro
  • scallions
  • micro greens
  • avocado
  • fresh lime juice

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pierce each potato a few times with a fork. Place on a parchment paper-lined sheet pan, and roast for 60-75 minutes or until you can easily pierce the skin with a knife and the inside is soft. Allow to cool slightly before slicing and stuffing.
  • While the potatoes cook, warm the coconut oil in a medium sized sauté pan or dutch oven. Add the onions and garlic and cook until caramelized, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add 1 tbsp water to the pan and scrape any brown bits stuck to the bottom in order to deglaze.
  • Stir in spices and tomato paste and toast for 30 seconds. Add the bell pepper and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Once softened, stir in the beans, add a pinch of salt, and allow the flavors to meld together for 5 minutes.
  • Slice each potato down the center, almost through to the bottom. Open to reveal the orange flesh. Spoon in the beans and top with selected garnishes.
  • For the lime cream, simply whisk together lime juice and yogurt. Add water, a tsp at a time to thin, if desired.

Source: Crunchy Radish