Orecchiette pasta, fresh spinach, butternut squash and shaved Pecorino Romano cheese made on top of the stove in a skillet.
Are you ready to unleash a burst of vibrant color and a boost of vitamins in your weeknight meals? Look no further than the power of spinach and butternut squash.
By adding leafy green spinach and orange butternut squash you're not just creating a healthier masterpiece, but also infusing it with a burst of color.
This meatless meal can be ready in 30 minutes for a deliciously, quick and healthy weeknight meal. Plus the beautiful colors will make this your new favorite Fall recipe!
Orecchiette Pasta: Any similar size pasta will work in this recipe like farfalle or gemelli.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Garlic: Fresh is best and you can either mince or thinly sliced.
Broth: I used low sodium chicken broth, but you can use vegetable broth for a vegetarian option.
Shaved Pecorino Romano Cheese
Prepare the Spinach
To begin, start by selecting fresh spinach leaves from your local market or garden. Look for vibrant and crisp leaves, avoiding any that show signs of wilting or discoloration.
Once you have obtained your greens, it's time to give them a thorough rinse. Fill a large bowl with cold water and gently place the spinach leaves inside.
Gently swish the leaves around, allowing any dirt or debris to loosen and sink to the bottom. This step is crucial in ensuring you achieve a clean and dirt-free spinach base for your skillet orecchiette.
Next, remove the spinach leaves from the water and give them a gentle shake to remove any excess moisture. Lay them out on a clean kitchen towel or paper towel, allowing them to air dry for a few minutes. This step will help prevent any excess water from diluting the flavors of your dish.
Another alternative to getting clean spinach leaves is to wash them in a salad spinner which helps to remove excess moisture. This is my go-to method!
What is Butternut Squash?
Butternut squash is a versatile and delicious ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes — from the savory to the sweet. Butternut squash soup is perhaps one the most popular way to prepare this vegetable.
However, don't let its sweet flesh fool you, it pairs wonderfully with robust flavors like sage, rosemary, balsamic vinegar, and even bacon. You can also add to your favorite mac and cheese, stuffing, lasagna or risotto for a rich boost of flavor.
Prep the Butternut Squash
Before cooking the squash, you'll need to peel, remove the seeds and dice. Start by trimming the ends off of the squash; then using a vegetable peeler, peel the squash down to the orangey flesh.
Cut the peeled squash in half, scoop and discard the seeds using a spoon; then cut into 1-inch cubes. You'll only need 2 cups so any remaining squash can be kept in the refrigerator in a sealed container for 3-5 days.
Now you're ready to assemble and cook the orecchiette pasta, spinach and butternut squash in the skillet!
How do you make Orecchiette with Spinach and Butternut Squash?
Gather all of your prepped ingredients and let's begin! Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; then add the spinach. Cook 1-2 minutes until it starts to wilt; then add the garlic and cook for another minute.
Next, add the orecchiette pasta, butternut squash and broth. Mix well, reduce heat to low, cover the pan with a lid and cook for 20 minutes.
Check periodically to make sure the liquid has not entirely evaporated before the pasta is cooked through which can happen if the heat is too high.
Once the liquid has absorbed and the pasta is cooked through, remove from the heat, top with the shaved cheese and season with pepper.
To serve this orecchiette pasta you can leave it in the skillet set on a hot plate for family style or divide into four portions in a bowl or on a plate; then serve with a tossed salad or crusty Italian bread. If you'd like to add a bit of protein, consider topping with slices of grilled chicken or shrimp!
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Orecchiette with Spinach and Butternut Squash
- Wash, rinse and dry the spinach in a salad spinner. Set aside.
- Trim the ends off of the butternut squash; then using a vegetable peeler, peel the squash down to the orangey flesh. Cut the peeled squash in half, scoop and discard the seeds using a spoon; then cut into 1-inch cubes.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; then add the spinach. Cook 1-2 minutes until it starts to wilt; then add the garlic and cook for another minute.
- Next, add the orecchiette pasta, butternut squash and broth. Mix well, reduce heat to low, cover the pan with a lid and cook for 20 minutes. (Check periodically to make sure the liquid has not entirely evaporated before the pasta is cooked through which can happen if the heat is too high. If this happens add a bit more broth until the pasta is cooked through.)
- Once the liquid has absorbed and the pasta is cooked through, remove from the heat, top with the shaved cheese, season with pepper; then serve.