Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pasta with butternut squash and broccoli

Indian Cooking as we all know offers a wide variety of recipes with cooking time varying from a few minutes to a couple of hours. Even with only half an hour or less available it is possible to make steamed rice or a bread and a side dish without much of an effort. Cooking elaborate curries is not an every day thing in most households. If you are familiar with Indian cuisine through restaurant food, clear that image from your mind. That is absolutely not what people cook for everyday eating.

The other cuisine which offers such a wide variety of recipes at least from what I know has to be Italian. When I first came here, seeing how ubiquitous both pasta and pizza were I thought they were American food. It perhaps is but who is keeping track! If these two are taken from the list of options I would be hard pressed to name any truly American food. Pasta doused in the red tomato sauce and tasting bland to my Indian spice trained palette was the main reason I learned Indian cooking in a hurry.

Anyway like any recent convert I am extremely taken with pasta. Does not hurt that the family loves eating pasta as well. The trick is to cook pasta with a variety of vegetables without the tomato sauce and still make it moist and tasty.

Watching Lidia Bastianich's cooking shows on TV was what changed my attitude towards pasta. Her shows are a treasure trove of ideas using a wide array of vegetables and different cooking methods opening up whole vista of possibilities for me.

We prefer whole wheat pasta which holds its shape better than the white pasta which tends to fall apart and get mushy.

This recipe is based on one episode where Lydia cooked pasta with butternut squash and cauliflower. Like potatoes I always have the versatile butternut squash in my pantry. Never know when it will come in handy. Used broccoli instead of cauliflower. Broccoli is another vegetable that go well with pasta but they have to be crunchy.

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Pasta with Butternut squash and Broccoli
1. 2-3 cups of Pasta
2. 1 cup of diced butternut squash (1/4 - 1/2 inch dice)
3. 2 heads of broccoli separated into florets (see note)
4. 4 garlic cloves minced
5. 1/2 onion chopped fine
6. 1 tbsp thick tomato paste
7. 2 small tomatoes chopped
8. 2 tsp of lemon juice (optional)
9. 1/2 tbsp pepper powder
10. 2 tsp of red chili powder or paprika (use as per taste)
11. salt to taste
12. 2 tbsp of chopped basil leaves
13. 2-3 tbsp chopped walnuts
14. 1 tbsp olive oil + 2 tsp
15. Parmesan cheese

1. Set a pot of boiling water with salt and a tsp of oil added.
Blanch the broccoli for about 3-4 minutes drain and set aside. Add the pasta to the same water and cook as per directions
2. In a pan add the oil and when hot(should not be smoking) add the onion and garlic and saute till they are translucent
3. Add in the butternut squash and let it cook till it becomes and the edges start to brown
4. Add the chopped tomatoes and the tomato paste and cook for a couple of minutes till the tomatoes are soft
5. Add pepper powder, salt and chili powder and cook for 2 minutes more
6. Add in the broccoli and mix it in
7. Now add the drained pasta (do not throw away the liquid) and mix it gently along with the vegetables. Add in the lemon juice if doing so
8. Check for taste and add a bit more pepper powder if required
9. Add in about 3-4 tbsp of the pasta liquid, chopped basil leaves and drizzle another couple of tsp of olive oil
10. Add Parmesan cheese and the chopped nuts before serving.

1. Do not throw away the woodsy lower portion below the florets in the broccoli. Remove the skin, chop them into the same size as the florets and use them.


  1. I am not that adventurous with the various squashes yet.. that is on my to-do list. This looks fabulous.

    Thanks for your help with the tomatoes, I actually harvested many of them unripe since they were being attacked by insects... Am trying out several methods to use them up and some are being coaxed into ripening inside a cardboard box :) Keeping my fingers crossed.

  2. Yes, I am a Pasta convert too. Never tried with B.Squash. A friend taught me a recipe with garlic and broccoli, where you cook the broccoli till it is totally disintegrated and then toss the pasta in it. It does not need anything else and even a favorite with the kids.

  3. Lovely pasta, wat an incredible way to sneak these veggies..

  4. I agree about pasta beein doused with tomato sauce or the gagu sauce which was invented in America.
    It is when Hans went to Italy for a concert we changed our pasta habbit which was with tomato or ragu sauce.
    After he came back we started having so much variety of pasta dish which he ate there and told me and i tried making them at home, never looked back after that.This pasta looks so so good.

  5. Oh that pasta looks fabulous, especially for cool Fall evenings. I agree- Lydia's cooking shows have vastly improved my repertoire of veg-pasta combinations. My mother however commented that they most of those are too "dry" for my parents' tastes, they like pasta "saucy".

  6. Laavanya, you have got to try butternut squash. They work well in stir fries, sambhar, kootu, pasta with any beans. They are so very versatile. Give them a try you will be hooked.

    Sandeepa, I have been slow in accepting broccoli. I do not like them mushed though, I prefer them crunchy. I mush them to make a quesadilla but never otherwise.

  7. Pasta has truly become an international favourite! I have even come to enjoy the simple olio- if you have some good quality and fresh ingredients pasta can taste really good! This version sounds great as well


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