Thursday, January 27, 2011

Shrimp and Butternut Squash Pasta

More and more request for healthy recipes seem to be coming in.  I'm proud of all my friends and clients who are sticking to their weight loss goals.  The freezing temperatures and cold nights leave us all wanting comfort food. recently conducted a survey of favorite comfort meals: Meatloaf, Chicken Pot Pie and Macaroni and Cheese topped the list.  What are your favorites?

Growing up the only Mac n Cheese I had was southern style.  Lots of eggs, cheese and milk -- it just seemed too dense without enough cheese flavor.  Later in college, I began eating the box mac n cheese because it was inexpensive.  Occasionally, I would turn it into a rounded  meal by adding broccoli or peas and chicken (if the budget would allow). Now cooking for my clients, I'm always on the look out for ways to give them ewwy gooey Mac n Cheese, but without all the fat and calories.  I've been testing two Mac n Cheese recipes this week - this one is the more grown up version.  I used a puree of butternut squash and 2% milk to add creaminess.  Then I used a mixture of Parmesan and Romano cheeses not only are white cheeses are naturally lower in fat but they also provide a sharp-flavor that goes a long way.

Shrimp and Butternut Squash Pasta

1 lb butternut squash, trimmed and cubed
1 lb. of shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 lb. of your favorite pasta

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
1 teaspoon salt, plus 1 teaspoon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1/2 teaspoon
1 cup stock, chicken or veggie
3/4 to 1 cup 2% milk or fat free half and half
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves or sage
1/4 cup grated Parmesan and Romano


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 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butternut squash, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Saute until the squash is golden and tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add stock, bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the squash is very soft, another 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the squash mixture to a blender or food processor and puree.

Meanwhile, warm the remaining olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle shrimp with the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. Add the shrimp to the pan and cook until just pink, about 3 minutes.

In a large pot over low heat combine the cooked pasta, pureed squash mixture, and 3/4 cup milk or half and half. Stir to combine. Add the remaining 1/4 cup milk if the sauce needs to be moistened. Add the cooked shrimp , basil, and cheese. Stir until warm and serve.

OPTIONAL:  If you like a baked mac n cheese, then reserve the 1/4 cup of cheese.
Pour pasta mixture into a baking dish (lightly sprayed with cooking spray), top with cheese and bake until the cheese is bubbly and melted.

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