If you’re looking for an easy way to serve up a yummy, nutritious family meal in 10 minutes, try this recipe. I pulled it out of nowhere last night after a harried day, and everyone approved. It’s a great way to fuse winter squash with in-season asparagus, green onions, and the sweet zip of balsamic. Plus, it’s easily made dairy-free and gluten-free, which my always-gluten-free and newly dairy-free (except for butter, thank goodness) daughter appreciates. The creaminess of the squash, hit of fat and sea salt, and the zip of the balsamic creates a full-flavor experience similar to cheese, but it certainly is a stand-alone dish on its own.
Spring Pasta Sauté
- About 1/2 a package of pasta, any kind (I used Barilla’s gluten-free macaroni), boiled in salted water until al dente
- 3 cups kabocha squash, or other favorite hard winter squash, peeled, de-seeded, and grated
- 1/2 bunch of super fresh Spring asparagus, cut to 1/2-inch widths on the diagonal
- 3-5 medium fresh whole Spring green onion (scallion) stalks, cut thinly on the diagonal, white and green parts
- 2-5 medium garlic cloves, chopped, according to taste preference
- Hefty drizzle of olive oil—don’t skimp
- Several tablespoons butter or butter replacement
- 1tsp cumin seeds
- Pinch of thyme, fresh or dried
- 8-10 oz water
- Sea salt & pepper
- High-quality balsamic vinegar
Heat olive oil and butter in a large caste iron skillet on medium-high heat. Cook cumin seeds until scent emerges, about 1 minute. Add garlic, stirring carefully so it doesn’t scald. Add grated winter squash (I really prefer kabocha because it is buttery and never bitter). Sauté squash, adding more oil and/or butter as the squash absorbs the oil, making sure it doesn’t stick. When squash is just tender, add water, starting with 8 oz, pinch of salt, thyme, and grind of pepper. Cook a minute or so more, until water is more absorbed and a gravy forms in the pan, adding more water and a bit of butter (or non-dairy butter) if it is too thick or sticky. Add chopped asparagus. Cook briefly, about 1-3 minutes, until just tender. Add green onions, keeping some aside for garnish. Taste for salt, add more as needed. Incorporate drained pasta. Stir gently, coating completely in squash mixture. Serve immediately in a wide bowl topped with drizzle of balsamic, chopped green onion, freshly ground black pepper, and red pepper flakes for those who like a bit of heat.