Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Butter bean, butternut squash, and sausage pasta

Butter bean, butternut squash, and sausage pasta, inspired by epicurious
I love butter beans. I love them when they're cooked to mush and you have to basically have to eat them like soup. But, I also love them when they still have some shape and some texture left. It's hard to find them in Michigan... first of all nobody has ever heard of a butter bean. You can occasionally find dried "lima beans," and I might be able to come up with a can of them. I want fresh... or at least frozen. So, while I was in Florida I bought several bags of frozen butter beans (both green and speckled), as well as a huge bag of zipper peas. I wanted to get a bit more creative than cooking them by themselves, so I was excited to find a recipe that pairs them with butternut squash and pasta. I had a few links of Amish turkey sausage left in the freezer, so I decided to throw that in too.

Butter bean, butternut squash, and sausage pasta (inspired by Epicurious)

2 links turkey sausage, chopped into small pieces
2/3 small butternut squash*, chopped into chunks
2 cups frozen butter beans, thawed
1/2 lb. whole wheat pasta (I used rotini; use brown rice pasta for gluten-free)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Brown sausage in large skillet. At the same time, put squash chunks in food processor and pulse until it's shredded. Once sausage is brown, add squash, butter beans, salt and pepper, and about 1/2 cup water. Cook for about 15 min, until squash is fully cooked. Continue to add water by the 1/2 cup as it dries out. Once squash is almost done, cook pasta according to package directions. Add nutmeg to squash while pasta is cooking. When pasta is done, reserve 1 cup liquid before draining. Then drain pasta and add to squash mixture, adding cooking liquid as needed to moisten. You could add freshly grated parmesan before serving (I meant to, but forgot). Serves 4.

*You can roast the rest of the squash chunks in the oven (I like to toss it with olive oil and thyme before throwing it in a 450 degree oven for about 30 min), but it also cooks well in the microwave (cover it and cook on high for about 4 min, until tender).

This was good and different... better than I expected. I wasn't sure what it would be like, but I like the sweet and savory combination. However, this is the kind of "different" dish that I get tired of fairly quickly. I hope I'm still enjoying it by the time I get to the 4th serving.

Oh, and by the way, I used Heartland whole wheat pasta for this. Their pasta tastes great, and it doesn't make you think that you're chewing through cardboard. I can only find it at natural foods stores, but it's not very expensive and is actually 100% whole wheat (unlike most of the "whole grain blends" at the grocery store).

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