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.