No matter how long I live in Calgary, I will always be surprised by snow in May. There is just something about it that seems so unnatural to me. This past weekend we got what I hope is our last snowstorm of the season. I awoke Saturday morning to big wet flakes covered the ground and blooming trees in a fluffy white blanket. After briefly considering packing up all of our stuff and buying a one way ticket to LA, we spent the day running some errands that we had been saving for a rainy day, mostly loading and hauling some things to the landfill. This is not really my idea of fun, nor what I would consider a scenic trip, but I could not deny that there was something really beautiful about the snow there. The landfill is just far enough away from town that the mounds of trash look like just another rolling foothill. And the snow, it was much like the first snow of the season, when everything is still clean and the snow is really pure and serene. And then we rolled the window down…
By the evening the snow had all melted away and the sun began to peak through the clouds, a reminder that summer will be arriving soon. Since winter is coming to an end, I decided to send off the season with one of my favorite pieces of winter produce, butternut squash, which I roasted and tossed with whole grain pasta, sage pesto, and creamy goat cheese. This combination is winter comfort food at its finest. The recipe is really simple, and is not at all time consuming, perfect for a weeknight. If you want to keep it vegan, you can simply omit the cheese and double up on the pesto. If you do not get a cold rainy spring day to try this out, keep it around for that first chilly fall day, it will give you something to look forward to.
Pasta with Roasted Butternut and Sage Pesto
Makes six servings
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced into ½ inch cubes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
16 ounces dried whole wheat penne
½ cup Sage Pesto (see below)
½ cup creamy goat cheese, (or you could use an organic cream cheese)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the diced squash on the baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Roast the squash for 25-30 minutes, until it is starting to brown around the edges. Remove the squash from the oven.
While the squash is roasting in the oven, cook the penne according to the package directions, until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving one cup of the pasta water, and return to the pan, toss with the sage pesto, roasted squash, and cream cheese. If the consisteny is too thick add the pasta water a little at a time until you get the desired consistency.
½ cup raw walnut halves and pieces
1½ cupspacked cup baby spinach
½ cup fresh sage leaves
4 cloves garlic
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Salt and fresh cracked black pepper
To make the pesto, put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until combined.