I should say that comfort food is universal and year-round. There are comfort foods I crave more in the fall and winter. Things like buttered popcorn, homemade soup and vegetable-laden pasta dishes. I know that people are enjoying our strange December weather of 50 degrees, but to me, that’s still cold. The sun isn’t shining and the birds aren’t singing. Instead, it’s this strange and heavy 50 degrees. I may not be freezing but I still need a jacket. I may not be frostbitten, but I’m dreaming of spring. I decided to take my Sunday morning to shop for ingredients and make a comfort meal for Sunday night dinner.
No one in my family has problems with gluten, but we almost always use gluten free pasta. Why? It makes us feel less full after we eat. Also, I’m intrigued by its texture and with the challenge of making pasta favorites gluten free and seeing how the tastes come together. We had a very eventful weekend. On Friday night, Scarlet was a reindeer in our local ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker.” On Saturday night, we were gifted tickets to Connecticut’s North Pole Express train ride. Yesterday, Cassidy was sick so I took the kids to our park’s Santa’s Trains event with Santa, treats and an outdoor train ride.
When we got home, we were pretty tired and still had to do dinner and baths before bedtime. Luckily I had thought of the most perfect meal. It’s so easy to create a healthy and even quick meal with Barilla Gluten Free Pasta, and it will always be something everyone will enjoy in my house. I had bought the pasta four-pack at BJ’s Wholesale Club on Saturday, knowing I’d want to make a few pasta dishes over the next few days or weeks. I got all my fresh ingredients on Sunday morning.
Barilla Gluten Free Pasta has a delicious taste and texture, and tastes just like regular pasta but is made with corn and rice. The ingredients are NON-GMO and are certified Gluten Free. The pasta is also produced on dedicated gluten free production lines. There seem to be many issues around gluten these days, and it’s nice that with Barilla Gluten Free, you don’t have to worry about what you’re serving your holiday guests. It’s also a great pasta to use for potluck dishes.
So for my recipe, I knew I wanted to use butternut squash because it’s just something I crave from October through January. Butternut squash is absolutely beautiful to use, and is so versatile in pasta recipes. I also used kale, because believe it or not, Des likes kale. He eats it at daycare and I’m convinced he goes to the best daycare in the world. Kale was public enemy #1 for me when I was pregnant with Scarlet, but I’m happy to say I got over that and I find it really awesome for this recipe. The recipe calls for kale to be chopped to bite size and with all the other flavors involved in the dish, even Scarlet tried it.
- 4½ cups water
- 1 package of your favorite chicken apple sausage
- 12 ounce box of Barilla Gluten Free Penne
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups peeled and diced butternut squash, chopped into ¼-inch cubes
- 2 cups of kale, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1½ tablespoons dried thyme
- 2 tablespoons plus 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup fresh parmesan
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Add the water to a stock pot or large, deep sauté pan.
- Add the penne, garlic, butternut squash, kale, thyme, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the sausage too - quantity is optional to your tastes.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon (ingredients may stick to the pan without frequent stirring).
- Cook until the pasta is al dente and nearly all of the water is absorbed. You can hot more hot water, about 1/4-1/2 a cup at a time if the water is absorbed and the pasta doesn't seem ready.
- Remove pasta dish from heat, add 3 more tablespoons olive oil, and stir until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add parmesan cheese. Yum!