Tag Archives: dinner

Penne with Butternut Squash and Kale

14 Jun

OMG, so far all I have written is the title of this post, and my stomach is already growling. Penne with Butternut Squash and Kale is my new favorite pasta! And I am a pasta fanatic, so that’s saying something.It’s so different from all of the other pasta recipes I’ve tried, which are typically tomato based (and often have ample cheese).

Butternut squash kale pasta
In this recipe, the butternut squash and caramelized onions give the dish a magnificent sweetness that that complements the savory kale and Parmesan. And dare I say this pasta is healthy? I think so! Butternut squash and kale are both superfoods, and sauce is made from a little white wine, not oil.

Butternut squash kale pasta 2
I admit, this recipe is a little time-consuming (the caramelized onions and squash take a while), but not necessarily labor intensive– you just have to plan ahead. I tend to get the onions and squash started, go do things around the house for a while, and then resume. Once the onions, squash, and pasta are cooked, it all comes together quickly. And oh my goodness, is it worth the wait!! If you love it half as much as I do, you’ll be very pleased.

Butternut squash kale pasta 3

Pasta with Butternut Squash and Kale

(recipe by Rikki Snyder)


  • Butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves torn
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 8 oz penne pasta
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Parmesan, to taste


  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a skillet over low heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt. Cook until completely caramelized, stirring occasionally at first, then more often as the onions begin to brown. This could take anywhere from 30 minutes to up to an hour. Season with pepper and remove from skillet when done.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss butternut squash with 2 tbsp oil, salt, and pepper on a baking sheet. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until tender.
  • Cook pasta according to package directions.
  • When onions, squash, and pasta are ready, add 1 tbsp oil to a large skillet (you can use the same one you had used for the onions to cut down on dishes). Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds.
  • Add kale and saute for 1 minute, then add wine to the skillet. Continue to cook until the kale has wilted, about 2-3  minutes.
  • Stir in pasta, onions, and squash; cook until heated through, about 2-3 minutes more.
  • Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with parmesan.

Makes 4 servings.


Balsamic Grilled Vegetables with Couscous

14 Jul

You know it’s a heat wave when the temperature is in the high 80s and it’s a “cool” day. Yuck!  When it’s this hot outside, the last thing I want to do is turn on the oven or stove. It’s the perfect time to grill! Grilling can take only a few minutes and doesn’t heat up the whole house. Plus, then I can get my husband to do most of the work 🙂

Today I’m sharing a recipe for my new favorite grilled dish. Adapted from a recipe by the grilling guru, Bobby Flay, it’s summer vegetables; marinated in a a delicious combination of balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, EVOO, and garlic, grilled; and tossed with couscous and fresh herbs. Super easy and so tasty!

I love the adaptability of this recipe. The original recipe calls for toasted Israeli couscous, which is delicious, but after running out of that rather expensive ingredient, I’ve been using regular whole wheat couscous and it works just as well. You can also use whatever vegetables you have on hand. I love grilled asparagus in it, but after it jumped in price, I was OK with leaving it out. Last night when I made this recipe again, I discovered that my cherry tomatoes had gone bad. I was dismayed because they add a lot of brightness to the dish. But I had some extra carrots on hand, so I threw them in, and they gave the dish a really nice sweetness. So really no matter what substitutions you need to make, you can’t go wrong. Grilled veggies are just that good 🙂

It’s delicious served warm, or at room temperature. Feel free to serve as a side salad, or like I do, as a main dish with some yummy grilled bread.

Balsamic Grilled Vegetables with Couscous

(adapted from recipe by Bobby Flay)


  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 green zucchini, quartered lengthwise
  • 1 yellow squash, quartered lengthwise
  • 4 carrots, quartered lengthwise
  • 1 red bell pepper, quartered and seeded
  • Handful of fresh basil, chopped
  • 4 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 lb couscous


  • In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard and garlic. Slowly add the olive oil and whisk until combined. Season with salt and pepper. Pour 1/2 the marinade over the vegetables and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the grill to medium heat. Prepare the couscous as directed on package.
  • Remove the vegetables from the marinade and grill the vegetables until just cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side (depending on the size of the veggies).
  • Cut the grilled vegetables into 1/2 inch pieces. Add them to the prepared couscous and herbs and toss with the remaining vinaigrette. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Makes 4 main dish servings.

Penne with Asparagus and Cherry Tomatoes

9 Jun

Bleh, I am feeling terrible lately. The cold that has been spreading like wildfire around my summer classmates has finally reached me, with a vengeance. Cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose…the whole 9. To make matters worse, I think I accidently took Nyquil instead of Dayquil this morning because when I awoke, I was surprisingly refreshed, but about 1/2 hour after drinking that disgusting liquid medicine, I felt like I was about to fall asleep standing up. So it was either a cold-medicine mix-up…or something very weird is happening to me. Whatever the case, I am not  a very productive worker today.

But despite being stricken with the plague, I’ve managed to throw dinner together the last three nights because my husband was working late. Given my condition, it really says something about (a) my husband’s [unfounded] confidence that I am not going to spread my sickness to him through food preparation, and (b) the level of ease of these dishes.

On the first night, as agonized as I was, I made Penne with Asparagus and Cherry Tomatoes. It is uncharacteristically hot here in Indiana (think, Sahara desert), so I went for something light and refreshing, yet comforting. My husband came home and said, “You didn’t have to make something so complicated!” But, alas, it’s not! This dish is super quick simple to make, yet quite delicious. Asparagus is in season now so I am eating it with every opportunity, and cherry tomatoes are a great, springy, refreshing accent.

Sick or not, give it a try!

Penne with Asparagus and Cherry Tomatoes (adapted from recipe by Giada De Laurentiis)


  • 8 ounces whole grain penne pasta
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups (about 9 ounces) cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 10 to 12 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
  • In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the asparagus, season with the salt and pepper, and cook for 3 minutes until slightly soft. Add the cherry tomatoes and peas. Cook for 2 minutes. Pour the vegetable stock into the pan and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook until the tomatoes start to burst and the stock is reduced by half, about 3 minutes.
  • Transfer the asparagus mixture to a large serving bowl. Add the cooked pasta and 1/2 of the parmesan. Toss well, adding reserved pasta water, if needed, to loosen the pasta. Garnish with the remaining Parmesan and chopped basil.

Makes 4-5 servings.

Vegetable Couscous with Moroccan Pesto

26 Feb

I’ve found that if you cook only vegetarian food, it’s sometimes easy to get stuck in the rut of always cooking pasta, typically with Italian flavors. Don’t get me wrong– Giada de Laurentiis is my fave (if you couldn’t tell from many of the other recipes I’ve posted)! But to me, it’s really  important to keep things interesting and try new recipes with unexpected flavor combinations.

Vegetable Couscous with Moroccan Pesto certainly fits the bill, and thus, has become a “regular” in my household. It’s full of healthy vegetables, and the Moroccan flavors are so interesting. I especially like the contrast of the savory pesto and tomatoes, paired with the sweetness of cinnamon and raisins.

By the way, couscous is technically a type of pasta, and yes, I was just saying one shouldn’t “get stuck in the rut of always cooking pasta.” But just as I consider peppers to be vegetables rather than fruits, I consider couscous closer to rice than pasta. Whatever the case, this is definitely not your typical Italian pasta dish!

Vegetable Couscous with Moroccan Pesto

Vegetable Couscous with Moroccan Pesto (adapted from recipe by Food Network Magazine)


For the Pesto-

  • 1 cup fresh cilantro (leaves and some stems)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley (stems reserved for couscous)
  • 2 tablespoons walnuts (or almonds, if you prefer)
  • 1/2 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt, to taste

For the Couscous-

  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Salt
  • 1 onion, cut into wedges
  • Sprinkle of ground cinnamon
  • 14 oz can whole peeled tomatoes, halved
  • 2 small carrots, cut into chunks
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup whole wheat couscous


  • Heat a wide heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add 3 tbsp butter and 1/2 tsp salt; cook until butter begins to brown. Add the onion. Add about 5 reserved parsley stems and cinnamon to the pot. Cook, stirring occassionally, until the onion is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, 1 cup water, carrots, zucchini, raisins, 1 tsp salt, and pepper, to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 15 minutes. Remove the parsley stems.
  • While the vegetables are cooking, prepare the couscous and pesto. Cook the couscous as the label directs. Add the remaining 1 tbsp butter, season with salt and pepper, and fluff with a fork.
  • For the pesto, Combine the cilantro, parsley leaves, walnuts, and garlic in a food processor. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the olive oil and 1/4 tsp salt; process until smooth.
  • To serve, top the couscous with the vegetables and pesto.

Makes 2-3 servings.