A versatile main course or good for some yummin’ on the side,
this simple pasta dish is a recipe for good clean eating that won’t break the bank.
This isn’t so much of a strict recipe as it is a guided customizable suggestion– I concocted this dish as something to tie together a roasted chicken dinner, using mostly staple ingredients, topped with a crumbling of feta cheese and Mediterranean herbs.
There isn’t a single ingredient in this dish that cannot be substituted or simply left out. Season to taste, switch it up to keep it interesting. I will provide a few substitution suggestions of my own but you will know what you like better.
A filled noodle is more filling, and packed with extra flavor, so for this dish I prefer tortellini or ravioli noodles, but any noodle will do.
Pictured here we used pesto filled tortellini. Cheese filled is more common and also makes for a delish dish. While we are enjoying the fruits of the harvest season, butternut squash tortellini fits the flavor profile perfectly.
Bring a pot of water to a hard boil then add the noodles.
Do NOT undercook tortellini– you want the inside to be soft, it will take longer than most noodles, bite into one to test it.
While the noodles cook, prepare the produce for your sauce.
I used my Oster 1200 Food Processor,
but lightly blending or finely chopping works too.
Onions or Shallots
I prefer the sweeter variety of bell peppers
they come in orange, yellow, or red.
Bell peppers and onions make for a flavorful sauce feature, together or individually. I have made pasta dishes with just these, and a cream or oil for base, same methods.
Green bell peppers could also work, especially with the pesto filled tortellini, but for green peppers I would suggest adding spinach, heavy on the garlic, hold the squash or substitute zucchini.
For those of you who like a hint of food
with that burning sensation in your mouth,
you could spice it up with jalapeno or other hot peppers.
Butternut squash also makes an excellent pasta sauce all by itself, or similar varieties like acorn, cinderella and winter squash all work just as well. Squash comes cheap and grows in abundance throughout fall and winter. As whole squashes, they are tough to cut, but my local Farmer’s Market has me covered with bags of pre-peeled chopped squash.
Finely chop your produce with sharp knives or a food processor.
To serve raw, reduce cooking time, or for a smoother texture– blend until smooth.
When your noodles are fully cooked,
drain the water and return noodles to pot.
Toss your chopped produce with noodles, or pour in blended sauce.
We were roasting a chicken at the time,
and I need a full-fat diet,
so I used the drippings for this side-dish.
To serve as a main course or reduce fat, substitute drippings for chicken bouillon or chicken broth. For a vegetarian dish, substitute vegetable broth, butter or oil.
I went heavy on the chicken drippings so I only used a couple large dollops of sour cream.
Can substitute cream or half and half, and thin sauce with milk or water if necessary.
For a vegan dish, just oil will work as a base, but I recommend processing your produce to a smoother consistency.
Squash alone will process or cook into a smooth sauce with no need for added liquid or oil.
Cheese is an excellent addition, if your diet includes dairy products.
I topped with feta cheese and Mediterranean herbs.
Adding shredded cheese like parmesean, cheddar or gouda as the sauce cooks would work well too, and also serves as a thickener. You may need to add more liquid or oil if using cheese in the sauce.
Cook on LOW until desired consistency
I processed my produce into a fine chop, started with a slightly thin sauce, and cooked it down into a thick, creamy, and very flavorful side-dish that took a bit longer than I had originally intended.
To reduce the cooking time, you can mix all your sauce ingredients, and blend until smooth.
Pour sauce into pot with noodles, heat until warm or serve raw.
Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!
What I made here served a party of 4 adults with some leftovers.