24 January 2015

Baked Pumpkin and Brussels Sprouts Rigatoni

This time of the year I find I am drawn to write more about recipes as I spend more time at home trying out new recipes that there never seems to be enough time for in the summer. I also find that many recipes are predicated by what's on hand or what is begging to  be used up. The garden provides a fair amount of winter veggies in such abundance that new recipes are definitely in order. Back in the autumn when I saw this recipe on one of my favorite TV cooking programs,  for what seems to me to be an adult version of macaroni and cheese, I knew I was in. I just happened to have an excess of pumpkin and this years crop of Brussels sprouts was abundant, which just happened to be two of the main ingredients of this pasta al forno, which is what oven baked pasta is called here. 
I do like creamy cheesy baked pasta, but  the thought of replacing some of the cheese with pumpkin or winter squash for a creamy and rich sauce that's not too much. This version is a tad lighter yet satisfyingly scrummy. I find this is a great way to use up odds and ends of cheeses and different varieties of pumpkin or squash. Its just good if you have a soft disintegrating variety of pumpkin and one that holds its shape, for added interest in this mix. Caciocavallo cheese is very much like provolone and yet I found other cheeses work quite well also. So if you don't have  the exact ingredients, don't hesitate to sub something that you prefer or have on hand. That's most of us do anyway, so feel free to use this as a framework for making a comforting pan of cheesy pasta and vegetables. I am sure you will agree. 
Mix and adjust the pasta to your taste

The pumpkin seeds add a great dimension of texture and flavor

Baked Rigatoni with Winter Squash and Brussels Sprouts 

Serves 6
10 oz / 300 g pumpkin Kabocha or other meaty winter squash, cut into cubes 1 leek, cut into slices
2 bay leaves
3 T olive oil, extra virgin
1 3⁄4 c / 400 ml milk
10 oz / 300 g pumpkin Delicata, cut into pieces
4 T pumpkin seeds, divided in half
3.5 oz /100 g parmesan, grated
10 oz / 300 g cacio bucato or caciocavallo or provolone or whatever cheese you would like
7-8 oz / 200g ish Brussels sprouts, trimmed, washed and cut in half. 1# / 500 g of rigatoni
Pumpkin oil


Place two tablespoons of olive oil and leek, in a saucepan.
Saute` slightly and then add the Delicata pumpkin pieces and season with some salt. Cover and cook over low heat, until the pumpkin is soft.
In another saucepan, place the pumpkin pieces with milk, half of pumpkin seeds, salt and bay leaf, Simmer for about 12 minutes on medium heat until the pumpkin is soft.
Remove from heat and keep warm.
Mix with an immersion blender, ( I would do this after the pasta is done)
Stir in half the cheese and half the grated parmesan.
Cook the pasta in salted water, I cooked about halfway before adding the brussel sprouts.
The original recipe add them together at the same time. I just preferred the sprouts to not be overcooked.
to which will be added also sprouts
Drain the pasta al dente, Toss the pasta and sprouts in a bowl with the the pumpkin cream.
Add the pumpkin stew and a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
Mix well.
Place it in a 9x13 baking pan (I lined the pan with parchment paper )brushed with pumpkin oil. Top the pasta with the grated cheese and sprinkle the other pumpkin seeds

Bake at 375* -400*F (200 °C ) till bubbly and top has browned.
Adult Mac and CheeseDon't you just love the crispy bits on top? I do.

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