Getting back into the kitchen is rough, except not really. Cause look at that cheese.
Somehow I moseyed my way through making this over the course of three days. I mean, three.days. 72 hours. FOR REAL. Don’t run away – it’s not going to take you three days to make this because you’re focused and on-task and normal. But wowzers. Apparently I am not. During these long Food Blogger Pro recording days, I’ve gotten way too comfortable with frozen pizzas and Pad Thai takeout and possibly had my brain sucked out of my head by those massively hot buzzing video lights.
The good news is that this cozy deep-dish baked rigatoni is less about my distracted cooking abilities and more about the inexplicable goodness of Provolone cheese.
PS. I felt compelled to show you that I had to keep my shredded cheese in the freezer to keep it from turning into fondue on the cutting board. Photographic reasons why this took me three days to make, exhibit A.
Being that it’s the new year, I thought I’d start out with one of my all-time favorite so-healthy-but-actually-tastes-amazing tricks.
I call it “whole wheat pasta drowning in creamy squash sauce”.
Also healthy – eating spinach. Which I honestly haven’t done since we left America six months ago. There’s a 99% chance that I’ll cry when I take my first bite of salad again. Ugh. SALAD. Read: RANCH DRESSING.
Is it weird that when I finally found spinach I immediately stirred it into pasta and cheese?
Or is it the best idea I’ve had in the last three days?
Definitely a good idea.
Can I tell you about New Years? –> a bacon cheeseburger with a fried egg and a whole side of french fries for dinner last night, a few bites of Bjork’s deep fried Monte Cristo with raspberry jam, and an unfair amount of his fries. OMG. How was I just talking about salad? It was so, so good. By the way, what do regular people do on New Year’s day? Mysteries.
Bottom line. I really need healthy things to taste good.
This pasta? This healthy pasta? I’m LOVING it on this second day of the new year. I didn’t even really notice the squash sauce, which could be good or bad depending on your feelings for squash, and it could also have something to do with my taste buds being permanently desensitized to the flavor of squash after it being my only liked vegetable of the last 6 months, but it doesn’t even matter. In 2013, we need to be thinking about what really matters.
Like melted Provolone cheese cascading over this gorgeous healthy-ish pasta.
Do it for the Provolone.
This baked rigatoni is loaded with healthy stuff: creamy squash sauce, fresh spinach, ground turkey, and Provolone.
- 2 yellow onions
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 medium kabocha or butternut squash, peeled and cubed, about 4-5 cups
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- salt + pepper + dried oregano
- 1/2 cup cream or half and half
- 1 lb. ground turkey
- 2 cups packed fresh spinach
- 1 cup grated Provolone cheese
- 1 lb. whole wheat rigatoni
- Mince the onions and garlic. Combine in a small bowl and set aside.
- Bring the vegetable broth to a boil; add half of the onion/garlic mixture and the prepared squash. Cook for 10 minutes or until squash/onion/garlic are fork-tender. Transfer the cooked squash combo with 1/2 cup of the vegetable broth from the pot to a blender and puree until smooth, adding salt, pepper, and dried oregano to taste. Stir in cream and set aside.
- Brown the turkey over medium high heat with the remaining onion/garlic mixture. Season generously with salt, pepper, and oregano. Drain out any excess liquid so that the meat will get a browned, almost crispy look.
- Cook the rigatoni in a large pot. Undercook the pasta slightly to avoid mushy noodles – I boiled mine for about 6 minutes. Drain the water; add the sauce, sausage, and spinach to the pot with the noodles. Stir until combined. Transfer to a large baking dish (any shape), stopping half way to add a layer of cheese (about 1/2 cup of cheese). Pour remaining pasta mixture in and sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese on top. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until the top is beginning to brown and everything is heated through.