As I got home from work yesterday, panic set in! I had been away all weekend and still had a bunch of vegetables left from last week’s basket delivery. If I didn’t shake the day’s exhaustion off and started cooking, these would spoil for sure. I was not about to let that happen!!! My weekly delivery of local and fresh veggies directly from the farmer sometimes interferes with life… Hmmm, wait a second, let me rephrase this: LIFE sometimes interferes with the godsend goodness from my local farmer. So I opted to make a pretty decent cream of Romanesco with the 2 large heads of that lovely vegetable: that was getting rid of the leeks, the Romanesco and some organic sour cream I had in the fridge. But I still had a few veggies in the fridge that didn’t really seem to work together. So I grabbed a coffee and watched Jamie Oliver’s 15 minute meals trying to mentally find some inspiration for squash and spinach. As much as I love the energy that Jamie puts out (some of his simple recipes look absolutely fabulous), it irks me to no end that he sets EVERYONE up for failure with the «not realistic» 15 minute meals… Sure, if your ingredients are all out, clean and ready to chop… If you have some stashed away minion that will clean up the mess… If you have Samurai chopping skills that let you whiz thru the veggies like a pro… Well, maybe then could one accomplish a full dinner in 15 minutes, commercials included!!! I am digressing here but I was still trying to find the inspiration necessary to create my own mess in the kitchen and get a decent meal on the table. It would not happen in 15 minutes, I needed to accept that. And I needed to use up what I had without spending several hours leafing through my indecent collection of recipes, scattered through books, magazines, computer files and mobile Apps.
So I scanned the fridge and pantry: whole wheat spaghetti, perfect! Pasta is always a great vehicle to a weird concoction of some sort and the boys love pasta. Hazelnuts: I could use that for a neat twist on things (bonus, mine were already toasted). Oh look, a half a tube of goat cheese in the deli drawer! Hmmm, that would work… I also had a squash I had never seen before, courtesy of my super-duper local farmer who loves everything heirloom and organic. I also had some fresh spinach, awesome. Sadly, my lovely fresh sage had gone brown which is too bad because I think in the end, adding fresh sage would have elevated the flavour profile. So I was now on a mission and the recipe was starting to take shape in my head. Now this was a complete ad-lib meal and I did not jot down quantities as such but I can sort of work the numbers closely enough for those of you who need exact measurements. In the end, the comment my husband made was: «Wow, this pasta is really awesome»! Need I say more???
Roasted Squash, Hazelnut and Goat Cheese Spaghetti
1 box of whole wheat spaghetti
Olive oil or avocado oil
1 squash, any kind, roughly the size of an acorn squash cut in slices with skin left on
1 small tube or half a large tube of creamy goat cheese, crumbled
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
1 bunch of spinach roughly chopped
2-3 leaves of fresh sage, minced (optional)
Salt and Pepper
- Pre-heat oven to convection roast at 450°F
- Spread squash on cookie sheet, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with S&P. Massage the oil all over the squash. Set to roast for about 40 minutes, flipping once. The squash is ready when the outside starts to take on a golden hue and the inside is tender. (I opted to prepared my soup while the squash was roasting)
- Once the squash is done, let cool slightly, remove skin and cut up in large chunks. You can do this ahead of time and save until you are ready to make the pasta.
- Cook the spaghetti until al dente. Throw in your spinach in the last 30 seconds of cooking time. Important: before draining, reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Drain spinach in spaghetti in colander and set aside
- Return pot to stove on medium heat. Add ¾ of the reserved pasta water and half of the goat cheese. Cook until the cheese starts dissolving into the water. Return the pasta & spinach to the pot and toss well to coat. Add the remainder of the goat cheese, a good drizzle of olive oil and sage if using. Adjust seasoning to taste. Saving a handful of roasted squash and hazelnuts for the garnish, toss them in the pasta and gently fold in. Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with the reserved squash and nuts
- Serve immediately!