I’ve been looking forward to this week for awhile now, because I get to see my good friend Susie not once, but twice, in two different cities! Susie is one of my best friends from college. We initially bonded as partners in organic chemistry lab, where we amused ourselves (and horrified our TA) by bringing in a CD player and dancing along to Salt-N-Pepa in the middle of lab. She’s been my favorite person to hit the dance floor with ever since! Her hubby Brian had business in Boston earlier this week and she tagged along, so we got to have dinner with them at Giacomo’s in the North End, and then Susie and I had lunch the next day and she checked out our lab. And, to top things off, we’re both going to a wedding this weekend in Chicago, where we still can’t wait to hit the dance floor, 10 years later!
We usually don’t gravitate towards Italian restaurants, since I can cook many Italian favorites decently at home, but Giacomo’s specializes in seafood and everything there is unique and incredible! They don’t take reservations, so you have to wait in line, but it’s so worth it – I always have to stop myself from licking the plate! One of my favorite dishes is an addicting butternut squash ravioli served with a mascarpone cream sauce and asparagus. I was really inspired by the butternut squash and pasta pairing, but wanted to lighten things up a bit, so I made a sauce of roasted butternut squash, spinach, buttermilk, and rosemary, and then tossed it with whole wheat pasta. Mmmm, this was a great way to enjoy butternut squash!
Roasted Butternut Squash and Spinach Penne Pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise and seeded
1 pound whole wheat penne pasta
1 cup chopped shallots
1 clove garlic, minced
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400˚F. Use a pastry brush to evenly brush flesh side of the squash halves with 1 teaspoon olive oil and place flesh side down on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 400˚F for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until tender. Let squash cool for 10 minutes. Remove flesh from the squash halves with a spoon and mash with a fork until smooth (my yield was 2 cups).
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain the pasta in a colander, return it to the pot, and keep warm.
Heat remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large skillet and cook shallots for 5 to 7 minutes or until tender. Add garlic and cook 1 additional minute. Add spinach and roasted mashed butternut squash to the pan. Stir in buttermilk, milk, rosemary, and salt and stir until smooth, about 2 minutes. Mix pasta and sauce until the sauce evenly coats all the ingredients. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over each serving. Makes 6 servings.
Nutrition: 403 calories, 6.8g fat, 12.6g fiber, 19.1g protein per serving
Cost: $1.05 per serving