Occasionally, people give me recipes they’ve tried and enjoyed. This one comes from the gym, where, Sara, my physical therapist and I sometimes talk about things others than my aging back. From her description, the recipe sounded healthy and fairly simple. I added the few ingredients I didn’t have to my grocery list—butternut squash, fresh spinach, frozen tortellini—and headed to the supermarket.
Cut and Peel—Agggh!
As it turned out, all the butternut squash was about 9″-10″ long. I prefer freshly chopped chunks, but there were none. Still I was intent on making the dish, so I bought two whole squash. That meant I had to peel and chop the rock-hard vegetable, which is about as much fun as changing a tire in the rain. Come to think of it, was this object ever meant for human consumption? Or was it just intended, as a missile to catapult over castle walls?
At some point in history, we took up cooking and eating the chunky vegetable. If you’ve cut up a butternut squash, you know it takes a lots of patience, a sharp knife, and hands not prone to carpal tunnel or arthritis. In deference to my digits, I gladly pay a bit more to have this awkward task performed by a professional in the produce section.
Roast and Scoop
The recipe called for slicing the unpeeled squash horizontally and roasting it for a half hour. I could do that myself. So I got out my chef’s knife—the sharpest of the lot—and sliced one lengthwise and the other in rounds to see which roasted better. The unpeeled one, that I’d sliced longwise cooked more evenly and I could easily scoop the pulp from the shell.
Once I got the squash roasted, the sauce was a breeze. I even had leftover pulp, which I froze for a future tortellini dish. I loved this recipe, but next time I’ll make a few small changes: lessen the nutmeg to a smidgen rather than a 1/4 teaspoon (as I indicate in recipe that follows) and throw in a jolt of hot sauce at the end.
Definitely a keeper. Thanks, Sara!
Butternut Squash Sauce, Spinach and Tortellini
- 1 cup butternut squash puree*
- 1 cup half and half cream
- pinch nutmeg
- pinch of paprika
- 1/4 tsp. salt, or to taste
- 1/4 tsp. pepper seasoning (approximately)
- 2 cups tortellini, uncooked, preferably cheese variety
- 8 oz. fresh, uncooked, spinach
- *For puree, slice large butternut squash horizontally, remove seeds. Place on baking sheet, cut side down, and roast in 425 degree oven for 45-50 minutes, or until tender. (Line sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup.) Remove squash, cool slightly, and scoop pulp from skin, measuring 1 cup. Process in food processor until somewhat smooth.
- Add butternut squash puree, half and half cream, nutmeg, paprika, and salt to a large skillet, on medium heat. Stir all ingredients to combine.
- Add lemon pepper seasoning to taste. Add spinach on top of mixture, cover, remove from heat. Allow spinach to wilt in pan.
- Bring medium pan of water to boil, add uncooked tortellini and cook according to the package instructions, about 7-10 minutes in boiling water.
- Drain. Add cooked and drained tortellini to skillet with butternut squash sauce and spinach and stir to combine. If the sauce is too thick, add more half and half. Taste and add more salt, nutmeg and/or lemon pepper.