November 21, 2010

Creamy Butternut Squash and Shrimp Pasta Bake

In the interest of full disclosure, we had a split decision on this dish at my house. I really liked it, however my husband (who is not a huge fan of butternut squash) was on the fence about it. I will say that it was an odd combination of flavors...but odd in a good way. I don't know if I will make it again, due to the mixed reviews; but I am happy to have the leftovers all to myself!

Creamy Butternut Squash and Shrimp Pasta Bake
Adapted From: the Aggie's Kitchen website

1 lb large cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 TB olive oil
3-4 large shallots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large red bell pepper, chopped small
1 32 oz carton Pacific Natural Foods Organic Creamy Butternut Squash Soup
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 container of part-skim milk ricotta
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt (kosher or sea salt)
fresh ground pepper
1 bag of fresh, baby spinach
1/3 cup fontina cheese, shredded (if you can’t find fontina, mozzarella is fine)
fresh, chopped Italian parsley, for garnish
1/2 lb whole wheat penne pasta

Cooking instructions:
Bring salted water to a boil. Add pasta. Cook until al dente 10-12 minutes.

While pasta is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a non-stick skillet. Add shallots, garlic and chopped red pepper. Add pinch of salt and pepper, oregano and thyme. Cook for 8-10 minutes over medium heat until softened. Add two teaspoons tomato paste and fresh spinach to cooked vegetables and cook for about a minute longer, until spinach is wilted. Add Pacific Natural Organic Creamy Butternut Squash Soup and nutmeg and bring to a slow simmer. Simmer sauce for about 5 minutes until slightly thicker and flavors have combined. Taste for salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, combine cooked and slightly cooled pasta, cooked shrimp, ricotta, Parmesan cheese, spinach, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Gently stir until slightly combined. Add sauce to pasta mixture and continue to combine. Add 3/4 of the amount of sauce.

Pour pasta mixture into a glass casserole dish sprayed with non stick spray. Spread pasta mixture evenly throughout dish and add the remaining amount of sauce to the top of pasta. Sprinkle shredded cheese over top of pasta and place in oven preheated to 375 for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly. (If cheese is not browned and bubbly, turn on the broiler for a few minutes to get the desired effect.) Sprinkle with fresh, chopped parsley and serve immediately.

The Result:
Again, we had a split decision. I thought it was great. The husband, was "meh" about it. I will say that I am a lover of butternut squash; and this is a very squashy pasta dish. I would suggest that if this sounds interesting to you...and you are a squash fanatic like me...then go for it! Overall, I am really pleased with this recipe.

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