Thursday, January 5, 2012
Rigatoni with Squash and Shrimp
Forgive me for yet another 2 week hiatus friends. I promise... this will not be a regular occurrence. You see, the problem is, I've been feeling a little less than inspired these days. The desire to cook is still very much alive and well. I've cooked many inspiring meals in the last couple of weeks, in fact. But with life being busy as usual and with daylight only sticking around until 4:30 or 5 these days, photos don't always get taken and posts don't get written, and well... the rest is history. And I won't lie... there are many other projects with my new house - and my newfound freedom from academia! - that I'd rather be working on. But sometimes you just have to push through, right? Blogging is good for me, and I'm not ready to give it up yet.
And this recipe is a great place to draw some inspiration. Just when winter food begins to feel heavy and stale, this dish takes winter produce and gives it a refreshingly light spin. The butternut squash transforms into a luxurious, velvety sauce that seems 10 times more decadent than it actually is. It gives the illusion of creaminess without the caloric punch, which is, especially this time of year, a huge bonus. Even my self-proclaimed squash-hating husband loved this dish! Of course, I didn't really tell him it had squash in it until he had finished his whole plate, but whatever. Feel free to let your picky eaters go on believing that it's cheese sauce... they'll never know any better. :)
If you've been following TLC for a while you've probably noticed that I don't cook a whole lot of seafood. That's because neither the boy nor I are huge fans - Dane more so than myself. I do happen to love shrimp, so I went ahead and prepared this dish with the shrimp as directed for myself, but I served his pasta with grilled sirloin steak instead and found both ways to be very satisfying. And either option is still diet-friendly! But if red meat or seafood aren't your thing, feel free to sub in some grilled chicken or forego the meat altogether. Trust me, you won't be disappointed!
Rigatoni with Squash and Shrimp
from Giada's Kitchen
yields 4 servings
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
1 pound rigatoni pasta
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
3/4 to 1 cup milk
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Warm 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butternut squash, garlic, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper. Saute until the squash is golden and tender (5-7 minutes). Add the broth, bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the squash is very tender (another 5-7 minutes). Transfer the squash mixture to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.
2. Cook the pasta according to package directions, until tender but firm to the bite. Drain the pasta and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, warm the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the shrimp with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Add the shrimp to the pan and cook, turning once, until just pink (about 3 minutes).
4. In a large pot over low heat, combine the cooked pasta, pureed squash, and milk. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of milk if the mixture seems dry. Stir to combine. Add the cooked shrimp, basil, and cheese. Stir until warm and serve.