Braised Cauliflower and Squash Penne Pasta

One of the items I always keep in my pantry is at least one box of chicken broth.  I reach for it when I make a quick sauce or to moisten a leftover casserole.  But more important it’s the way to fast flavorful dinners.  Obviously its used in soups, but I also use it to whip up dishes like risotto, or a one-pot meal such as the one I have for you today.

Braised Cauliflower & Squash Penne Pasta

Braised Cauliflower & Squash Penne Pasta

If I had all the time in the world, making my own chicken broth  by simmering meat, bones, and vegetables for hours would be ideal,  but I don’t, so that’s why I love boxed chicken broth.  I have cans of broth on my shelf too, for when only small amounts are needed, and I know I’ll use all of it, but for convenience, you can’t beat the box.  Pop the top and you’re ready to go.   Even when opened it keeps a long time in the refrigerator.   If you haven’t gotten around to trying boxed chicken broth, try it once for the convenience, but be sure to choose one with reduced sodium content.

A satisfying meatless meal.

A satisfying meatless meal.

This recipe for penne pasta with cauliflower and butternut squash goes together quickly, is a wonderful combination of flavors, and best of all the pasta cooks right in the broth with the vegetables, getting all that extra flavorful.  The starch from the pasta combines with the broth as it simmers and creates a thickened silky sauce.  And because its all cooked in one pot, cleanup is a breeze.  The dish can be vegetarian/vegan by using vegetable broth instead of the chicken, but expect the sauce to be a little bit darker in color.

We loved this dish as a meatless meal, served with a green salad,  but it would also be a great side dish to baked chicken, pork or fish.

BRAISED CAULIFLOWER AND SQUASH PENNE PASTA

Yield:   Makes 4 servings

Just a few ingredients.

Just a few ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 4 cups chicken broth, or vegetable broth
  • 8 ounces whole-wheat penne pasta (about 3 cups)
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets, about 1-inch size
  • 2 cups peeled butternut squash, cut about 1-inch size pieces
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup shredded Romano cheese

Directions:

1.  Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.   Add garlic, thyme and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

2.  Add broth, penne, cauliflower and squash.  ( a quick side note:  I roasted my squash with red onions and a little olive oil, to caramelize it and intensify the flavor, then added it to the cauliflower and pasta mixture at the end.)

Add cauliflower and  pasta to the pan with chicken broth.

Add cauliflower and pasta to the pan with chicken broth.

Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to a lively simmer and cook, uncovered, until the pasta is tender and the liquid is thickened and greatly reduced, 14 to 16 minutes.  Remove from heat, stir in pepper and let stand for 5 minutes.  Serve topped with cheese.

Serve topped with grated Romano cheese.

Serve topped with grated Romano cheese.

SOURCE:   Eating Well

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When in Rome—

When in Rome, or anywhere in Italy, or a good Italian restaurant, do as they do, and eat Italian food. A well-known Italian restaurant in our area features this dish on their lunch-time menu throughout the summer months. I have had it there and loved it. It features a combination of eggplant, tomatoes and onions with fresh herbs served over penne pasta. A while back our local newspaper published this recipe for the dish, and I was so delighted that now I could prepare it at home. I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we do.

Use the freshest eggplant and plum tomatoes you can find. Also lots of fresh basil or marjoram is key to the delicious blend of flavors. Serve with grated Romano cheese and crusty Italian Bread for a true restaurant-quality meal.

Roast Eggplant and Tomatoes with Penne Pasta

INGREDIENTS:

SERVES 4-6

  • 1 large eggplant, about 1 1/2 pounds, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 Tablespoon salt, plus more to sprinkle on the eggplant
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 pounds plum tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 large onion, cut vertically in wedges
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh marjoram, oregano or basil chopped
  • 1 pound dry penne pasta
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly grated Romano cheese

1. Place cubed eggplant in a colander and sprinkle lightly with salt. Toss. Allow eggplant to drain at least 30 minutes. Rinse, and pat dry with paper towels.

2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a large roasting pan with non-stick spray. Put the eggplant, tomatoes, onion, garlic and herbs in the roasting pan. Pour the 1/4 cup oil over all and stir well to coat vegetables with oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spread out into an even layer.

3. On the top rack in the oven, roast, stirring occasionally , until eggplant and onions are lightly browned, 25-35 minutes.

4. Meanwhile in large kettle, bring water to boil and cook penne to al dente (7 – 10 minutes). Drain. Immediately add to the roasting pan with the vegetables. Add chopped parsley and EVOO . Toss well. Transfer to a large serving dish. Serve with grated Romano cheese.

When I made this dish just recently, I omitted the pasta and in its place I added some meatballs I had in my freezer.  I browned them in a skillet on the stove top, then placed them on top of the vegetables to finish cooking in the oven. I served the whole thing with a green salad consisting of baby greens, cucumbers and green grapes; and also a small ear of fresh corn. (Still keeping a low profile with those carbs!)

SOURCE: Courtesy of Max A Mia restaurant.