Rigatoni with Blue Cheese and Butternut Squash

I always associate butternut squash with baby food.  Mushy, bland, orange – not incredibly appetizing.  However, as a mother of a 5-month-old who is just beginning to enter the world of culinary goodness, I thought it was time to see what an adult could do with butternut squash.  As soon as I saw that this recipe contained blue cheese I was hooked – I love blue cheese!  I realized though that I’ve really never cooked with it – usually I just use it in salads and salad dressing.  Whatever your relationship with butternut squash or blue cheese, give this simple dish a try.  Bonus points in that it’s vegetarian, gives you a healthy serving of veggies, and, above all – it uses a small amount of wine (which is pretty essential) so you’re gonna need to drink the rest of the bottle.

One major change I made from the original recipe was omitting the pine nuts.  Though I adore them and think a cup of toasted pine nuts would be excellent, one tiny box costs 1/10th of my grocery budget for the week.  I don’t think the dish suffered from a lack of overpriced pine nuts.  This meal requires very little work, but the squash needs to cook down for a while, so plan to start about 45 minutes before you serve.

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Rigatoni with Blue Cheese and Butternut Squash

Serves 6

1 butternut squash

1 onion

1/2 tsp paprika

2T olive oil

1T butter

1/2 cup white wine (I used Chardonnay)

1/2 cup water

1lb rigatoni pasta

5oz. crumbled blue cheese

1tsp dried marjoram

1tsp dried oregano

salt and pepper

1. Peel, seed, and cube the butternut squash into 1″ pieces.  I don’t know of a great way to do this, so I just hacked away at the thing.  Dice the onion.  Heat the olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over high heat and cook the onion until it begins to become golden and translucent.  Stir in the paprika.  Add the butternut squash and butter and stir it all together.  Pour the wine and water over the top and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat, put a lid on the pot, and cook for about 15 minutes.

2. Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Before draining, reserve a little of the pasta water.  When the squash is fork tender, but not mushy add the marjoram and oregano.

3. Pour the strained rigatoni into the pot with the squash and onion and stir together.  Mix in the blue cheese until it melts and is evenly distributed.  Add some of the pasta water back in if it seems too sticky.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with the remainder of the white wine.

Source: adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Nigella’s Kitchen

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