I wish I craved salads during cold weather like I do in warmer seasons. Salads are a great way to inject a lot of veggies at once into a meal, plus it’s easy to throw one together. But alas, when the temps drop, I want warm, in other words COOKED, food. And carbs. Bring on the carbs! I get a little cranky, though, if I don’t keep a healthy amount of veggies in my diet. Fortunately, it’s easy to incorporate a wide array of vegetables into warm, comforting food. That’s how I came up with this recipe for Squash and Turkey Pasta.
We’re talking winter squash here. Thick and sweet flesh, with lots of vitamin A. And paired with pasta, squash can be super satisfying. It’s easy to get those savory flavors we associate with fall by adding onion, garlic, and rosemary. Get some turkey, mushrooms, and cheese incorporated, and you have a healthy, delicious meal!
First, some quick tips about the ingredients and methods, followed by the recipe. Enjoy!
Winter Squash – You know that bin of bright, beautiful squash that shows up at your local grocery store every year right around this time? Do you usually pick a few up to use as decoration around your house or on your porch? Well guess what… you can eat it! I give some suggestions on squash to use in the recipe below. Don’t be afraid to try and cook the squash with the skin on (be sure to wash the squash first, and organic is best). I used a baby blue hubbard squash to make this recipe, and the skin was just as tender as the flesh.
Cleaning and chopping the squash – Gourd skin can be pretty darn tough to cut through, so make sure you have a sharp knife and work slowly. Depending on shape, I usually cut the top off, place the now flat top of the squash face down on the cutting board, then cut it in half height-wise. After scooping the seeds out (use a large metal spoon), I chop the squash. Here’s a tutorial on peeling and chopping a butternut squash from Simply Recipes.
Laughing Cow Cheese Wedges – You don’t have to use this ingredient, but these inject a mac & cheese flavor to the dish for minimal calories. Yum!
Cooking the Pasta – Be sure to salt the water you cook your pasta in (unless you’re watching your salt intake). The pasta doesn’t absorb much of the salt, but it helps to add a bit of flavor. Don’t be afraid to add a tablespoon of salt to the pasta water. I once heard that you should make your pasta water salty like the sea. I like that.
Squash & Turkey Pasta
- 8 oz. whole wheat or gluten free penne or spiral pasta
- 8 oz. cooked turkey breast (you can likely find thick slabs of turkey breast in the deli case at your local grocer), chopped or shredded into bite size pieces
- 1 small winter squash (like baby blue hubbard, butternut, acorn, or kabocha), cut into 1.5 inch squares
- 1 small red onion, quartered and sliced
- 7-10 white mushrooms (depending on size), chopped
- 4-5 peeled garlic cloves, smashed once and chopped in half
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tsp dried rosemary, or 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, rough chopped
- 2 Laughing Cow light creamy swiss cheese wedges
- 1/2 cup grated Italian cheese (parmasen, asiago, or parmigiano reggiano)
- 1/2 cup of reserved pasta water, or warm chicken or veggie stock
- sea salt and fresh pepper
1. Preheat oven to 425°.
2. Place cubed squash on a rimmed cookie sheet and drizzle with about a tablespoon of olive oil. Mix the squash around to coat it in the oil. Roast the cubed squash for about 18 minutes. Remove from oven, then add the onion, mushrooms, and garlic to the pan. Drizzle with more olive oil, and mix together. Pop the pan back in the oven and roast for an additional 18 to 20 minutes. The squash should be soft enough to cut with a fork, and the onions should be translucent. If not, keep roasting in 3-5 minute increments until you’ve reached the results you want. Once the veggies are done, add the turkey and rosemary to the pan and combine with the veggies. The heat from the pan will help to heat that turkey up.
3. Meanwhile get a salted pot of water boiling for the pasta. Cook according to directions, and try and time the pasta to be done right around the time the roasting veggies come out of the oven. Drain the pasta, reserving half a cup of pasta water (unless you’re using broth) then add back into the pan you just boiled it in, or a large bowl. Toss in the Laughing Cow cheese wedges and combine until they’ve melted into the pasta.
4. Add the veggie/turkey mixture and shredded cheese to the pasta and combine. Add enough pasta water or broth to infuse some moisture back into the pasta mixture (half a cup was good for me). At this point you can also dress the pasta with a little more olive oil if you like. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and dish up!