I like to think the universe gives us little signs to show us things are still alright.
Tonight, I saw the most brilliant colored rainbow amidst a half charcoal and half sunlit sky. I saw it first, like a surprise, through the trees outside our dining room window, and then closer as I drove down into town. At one point I was at a four-way stop and I thought to myself, “Now this is just perfect.” Off to the right was an old lampost, a glaring red stop sign and the rainbow casting its colors against the backdrop of a nearby mountain. There was literally a sign begging me to just stop and drink it in. So I did.
I picked up Zumba again and tonight a cute little girl, who looked like me when I was a kid, was invited to come dance with the class. She never once hesitated or shied away from the spotlight. This kid was just living in the moment and not even realizing she was doing just that. It made me want to cast off all the crust and the ugly that I’ve had hanging around me for the last two weeks. April has not been a great month, but tonight, I felt a little more like myself again.
I believe our energy just gets stuck sometimes and we need a little help either from the people closest to us or sometimes complete and random strangers to help shove us out of those sticky places. Sometimes we veer off course unintentionally and we have a hard time finding our way home. If we take a moment and a breath we eventually remember how we got there and how to get back. It’s always in us, we just have to be there ready to find it.
So now that I’m back, I’m delighted to share a recipe that’s been waiting to see the light of day but due to some technical difficulties has had its moment of glory delayed. Without further ado, I give you a deceptively simple yet cunningly creamy butternut squash & asparagus pasta.
- 3 pounds butternut squash
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- Black pepper, to taste
- 1 cup vegetable stock, divided
- 1 pound asparagus
- ¼ cup diced yellow onion
- 1 large red bell pepper
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium clove garlic
- 5 oz grated parmesan cheese
- ½ pound spaghetti or your favorite pasta
- 1 small pack of fresh basil
- Preheat oven to 425°.
- Trim top and bottom off the butternut squash and cut into two halves. (You will end up with the top seedless half and the bottom round half with seeds). With a sharp chef’s or small paring knife, trim away the outer peel of both pieces. Slice the top half into 1” cubes, place into a large mixing bowl, and lightly toss with two tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and a pinch of black pepper. Place onto a foil or parchment-lined baking sheet and roast for 35 minutes.
- Cut the remainder of the squash into four pieces. Remove the seeds and place into a small microwave-safe bowl with ½ cup vegetable stock. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and microwave for about 12 minutes, or until you can easily pierce through each piece with a paring knife.
- Place a pot of water on high heat to boil for the pasta.
- Trim about 1 ½-2” off the bottom of the asparagus. Cut the remaining stalks into thirds, place into a mixing bowl and toss with one tablespoon olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt and a pinch of black pepper. Pour onto a second baking sheet to roast during the last 15 minutes of baking the squash that’s in the oven.
- Dice onion and cut bell pepper into thick slices. Set aside.
- Carefully unwrap the squash that’s been microwaved. Place it and its liquid into a blender or food processor. Add an additional ½ cup of vegetable stock, butter, garlic, diced onion, ½ teaspoon salt and a pinch of black pepper. Blend until smooth and creamy.
- Cook pasta for about 18 minutes. During the last five minutes, drop in bell pepper to soften.
- Drain pasta and peppers, mix with butternut squash sauce, roasted vegetables, and torn basil. Garnish with parmesan.
If you prefer a slightly mellow tasting sauce, you can saute the onion and garlic in a little bit of oil for a few seconds before adding it to the final sauce. This sauce will thicken up a bit as it sits so if you prefer it a little runnier, just add more stock or water before reheating.