By Melissa Beveridge
This last week has been tough on New Jersey residents: flooding, no power, no heat, lack of food. Everyone knows someone who has lost everything and I, along with everyone on the Jersey Bites team, have been doing their part to help our neighbors. This is just one way to bring back some hope and smiles around the dinner table. The more the merrier!
Over the last week, I was on a mission to not waste any food. I donated frozen meat to shelters who could cook it and then looked for creative ways to use the food I had in my fridge and pantry without throwing anything away. The first couple of days were rather easy as my fridge was pretty well stocked, however as the days passed there were less “fresh” ingredients to use and I resorted to eating oatmeal. After my fourth bowl of oatmeal my inspiration kicked back in when I realized I still had one of my favorite vegetables available to me sitting on my counter, butternut squash. So I put my oatmeal back in the cabinet and made this pasta with just the ingredients in my pantry. I still had some butter in my fridge, along with some sage however the goat cheese I added to the dish courtesy of a friend. The results were a nutritious pasta dish that won’t make you feel like you’re cooking out of your pantry, whether it’s during a storm or when you’ve just been too busy to go food shopping.
Serves 4 Adults
1 Medium Butternut Squash
1 handful of sundried tomatoes (in olive oil or not)
1 box pasta of your choice (I prefer rigatoni for this dish)
1 tablespoon olive oil plus 2 tablespoons more
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons goat cheese
1 teaspoon chopped sage leaves
– Cut the two ends of the butternut squash off, then cut the squash in half (between the bulb and stem portion). Hold the pieces and use a knife to cut off the skin. For the bulb portion, cut lengthwise and scoop out the seeds, before chopping up the squash into bite size pieces. (The smaller the pieces the quicker the cooking time!)
– Add some olive oil to the bottom of a dutch oven and place the butternut squash into the pan on medium heat. Be sure to do this in batches if you have a smaller pan. You want to be sure to brown up the pieces of butternut squash to mimic what the oven would do to them.
– Optional: If you do have access to an oven, you can also put the squash on a baking sheet into a 400 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes. Season the squash with the Herbs de Provence, salt, and pepper.
– While the squash cooks, add the pasta to boiling water (be sure to salt the water for more flavor!)
– Once the butternut squash is cooked, place aside. Put the two tablespoons of olive oil into the dutch oven with the chopped sundried tomatoes and cook on low heat until fragrant.
– Optional: If you do have butter, replace the two tablespoons of olive oil with two tablespoons of butter and add the chopped sage leaves. Melt the butter until brown and nutty.
– Toss the cooked pasta and butternut squash into the olive oil or butter sauce.
– Optional: Crumble two tablespoons of goat cheese over top.
Melissa Beveridge was raised in Monmouth County, and has been hunting, gathering, and tasting different shore foods for as long as she could eat, while creating unique dishes in her home. She earned her Bachelors in Political Science and Masters in Public Policy at Monmouth University where she wrote her thesis on childhood obesity. She is an ESL professor, designer, cook, and editorial writer for the Greenwich Village Gazette (nycny.com). Traveling to various locales, Melissa has a taste for spicy foods and a flare for finding those hidden gems.