I read a blog post the other day which said never to apologise for the quality of your photos or (presumably) anything else you are doing with your site. But I appreciate that these are not very good at all. I was away and without camera and with people who wanted to eat, not watch me faff as their food got cold. I think there could well be an argument for publishing either properly lit and styled photos, or obvious Instagrams taken in seconds capturing a moment, with no middle ground between the two.
Pasta bakes always hit the spot in the winter, baking deepens flavours and adds crunch to the exposed bits of pasta. A dish is always better with texture.
Butternut squash is a favourite and versatile vegetable which I steam, roast or boil, using it in curries, soups, as a side, as a base and even in smoothies. You need a sharp knife and a decent peeler but once you have chopped into that golden flesh the effort is worth it.
Use what you have here, squash or pumpkin, or maybe even carrots. Add extra vegetables to the sauce – I think that roasted peppers would be a good and colourful addition. For the cheese use what you have – a mix of over ripe goat’s and the crumbled remains of the Stilton were perfect. I used the charmingly named gigli pasta, little curled pieces with fluted edges, pretty and the name which made me giggle.
Recipe: Butternut Squash Cheesy Pasta Bake
- 1 medium butternut squash (about 600g, peeled, deseeded and diced into 2cm cubes.)
- Good glug olive oil
- Pinch paprika or chilli
- 1 medium onion (finely chopped)
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 150 ml double cream
- splash of white wine – or a squeeze of lemon juice
- 250 g dry pasta – cooked very al dente as per the packet instructions – reserve some of the cooking water
- 100 g mixed cheese – grated or finely chopped
- Toss the cubed butternut in oil and the paprika or chilli, spread out on an oven proof tray and roast at 180C/350F/GM 4 for about 30 minutes until soft and turning golden brown.
- Fry the chopped onion until translucent. Blitz half the onion and half the squash with a food processor or with a stick blender to a smooth paste, thin with a little water if needed.
- Return the squash and onion paste to the pan, add the remainder of the roasted squash, rosemary and cream and simmer for a few minutes, taste as you go and remove the rosemary once it has infused enough. Add the wine or lemon juice. Season to taste.
- Stir in the cooked pasta – add a little of the cooking liquid to thin if needed. (You can make ahead and / or freeze at this point)
- Transfer to an oven proof dish, top with the cheese. Bake at 180C/350F/GM 4 for about 20 minutes until bubbling and golden.