Home again, home again …….. to a Fabulous Fall Dinner – Butternut Squash and Parsnip Baked Pasta

Though a bittersweet farewell, it felt wonderful to plant our feet on good old US soil once again! ……
….. We arrived home yesterday after spending two weeks with our daughter and her family in London, helping with and welcoming a new baby boy. We came home weary and a bit jet-lagged but so thrilled to have been able to be a part of this amazing, memorable experience. We loved every minute of it!

We thoroughly enjoy being in London and spending time with this sweet family, though we have to laugh each time, as we adjust to the cacophony of lovely little voices talking, laughing, playing, singing, crying ……….. you name it!! The sounds are music to our grammy and papa ears but are such a contrast to our quiet, peaceful (empty-nester) home!

As much as we enjoy traveling, it’s always nice to return to life and family here in Carolina. We’d been missing our son and daughter-in-law and were delighted when they were able to come for dinner last night. But here’s the best part; Lindsay brought dinner and it was fantastic! Loaded with lovely fall flavor, all went back for second helpings. But I’ll let the chef tell you more about it ……….. Thanks again Linds!

I love everything about fall, from the cooler temperatures and crisp air to the changing leaves and pumpkins. Every year when the season rolls around I get so excited about all the fall foods there are to enjoy. Since Saturday officially welcomed the season, I knew I had to make this Butternut Squash and Parsnip Baked Pasta. It is one of our favorites! While it may seem like a relatively simple meal, the flavors are complex and hearty. It’s the perfect comfort food. ~ Lindsay

Butternut Squash and Parsnip Baked Pasta
Ingredients:
1 tablespoon extra virginolive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1/2 inch-dice)
1 cup chopped parsnips (about 1/2 inch-dice)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried sage
1 tablespoon chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon all spice
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 chicken sausages diced (I used the sweet apple chicken sausage from Trader Joe’s)
1 lb dried pasta shapes (like penne or farfalle)
1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cup milk
1 cup reserved pasta water

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion, red pepper and garlic, sauté about 3 minutes. Add squash and parsnip; sauté 10 minutes or until softened. The vegetables don’t need to be completely cooked through as they will continue to cook in the oven. Stir in sage, parsley, nutmeg, allspice, salt and pepper. 

3.  Set aside cooked veggies and return the skillet to medium high heat. Add chicken sausage and cook until lightly browned.

4. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta water.

5. Melt butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add flour and cook for about 3 minutes stirring with a whisk. Add in milk, stirring constantly. Cook about 5 minutes or until thick. Slowly add the reserved pasta water cooking for about 2 more minutes or until thick. The sauce should be able to coat the back of a spoon. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

6. In a large bowl (or the pot you used to cook the pasta) combine the pasta, vegetables, chicken sausage, sauce and cheese (reserving a little Parmesan to sprinkle on top). Stir to make sure pasta is evenly coated. Pour into a large glass baking dish or individual ramekins. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan.

7. Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

Adapted from Cooking Light



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