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Cooking the Pantry – Winter Pasta Edition

At times, it becomes glaringly necessary to clear out some aged items from your pantry or fridge. I had a quarter (approx) bottle of blue cheese dressing sitting in the fridge that needed to be used. Bottled blue cheese dressing is not one of my favorites (I inherited that bottle) but I also hate to throw out food items, so I was looking for a way to use this up. I also had a small acorn squash quietly hogging the fruit bowl, and wondered if it might work with the blue cheese. Some Internet searching confirmed that winter squash and blue cheese is a possible combination, and an experiment commenced.

The obvious base for me was pasta, as I’ve had success with acorn squash and penne, and anyway, pasta is wonderful. I hacked the squash in half, cleaned out the seeds and stringy innards, and then roasted the halves, lightly brushed in olive oil. If you need instructions for this, the Web abounds.

Once the squash had reached its proper state of roastedness, I let it cool a bit and then scooped out the flesh.I also set a large pot of water to boil for mini wheels pasta (piccolini rotelle). Penne or similar shapes would also work.

As for the pantry-sweeping pasta sauce: In a pot, heat a measure of olive oil over medium heat, then add one to two cloves of minced garlic and about a 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes (or more, if you have more blue cheese and more squash).  Once the garlic is fragrant but not browned, add in the squash meat and stir. Turn down the heat to low and add the blue cheese dressing (about 1/4 or less of the bottle), as well as some milk just to thin things out a bit – definitely less than 1/2 cup, closer to 1/4 cup. Stir until combined and heated through, then toss in the pasta and mix until the pasta is coated with sauce.

This is very good re-heated the next day, even in the microwave.

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