Tired of this grey and gloomy, January weather? Me too! So how about a cheery, orange meal to brighten your day! Most people like to incorporate”no meat” into their Monday meals as “Meatless Monday” but I want to to make this “Cheery and colorful Monday”. An added plus if you do not want to consume any meat today, this does not contain any meat, just delicious, healthy and colorful goodness for you.
Instead of consuming meat today, I have substituted with this super power nut called the walnut. Not only is it a very healthy and nutritious snack but it can be incorporated into any meal that you like. Be creative! Food is all about experimenting with flavors, mainly flavors that YOU like and enjoy. By sneaking in only 1 ounce of walnuts, you get 4 grams of protein! Woo-Hoo! great for your muscles. Walnuts are also a great source of anti-oxidants (the stuff that kills the bad stuff in our bodies) and it also may help reduce not only the risk of prostate cancer but also breast cancer.
The orange color from the butternut squash is a great indicator of the beta-carotene it provides. So what is beta-carotene? Well, beta-carotene, like all carotenoids, is an antioxidant. An antioxidant is a substance that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules; it protects the body from free radicals. Free radicals damage cells through oxidation. Eventually, the damage caused by free radicals can cause several chronic illnesses. So why not help yourself and be kind to your body. Do whatever you can to make yourself healthy, strong and glowing! And, while you are being kind to yourself, you are also enjoying a delicious and colorful meal! Enjoy!
Ingredients: Serves 2
¼ cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
8 ounces Cellentani pasta or another small ridged pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup butternut squash, peeled, cut into ¼ inch pieces (about 1/8 of a small squash)
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, divided
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
¼ cup grated Parmesan plus more for serving
2 tablespoons torn fresh mint leaves, plus extra for garnish
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat a non-stick skillet. Spread out the walnuts and toast, tossing occasionally, until golden, about 3 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop; set aside.
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, according to package directions, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the squash and cook, tossing occasionally, until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, just until garlic begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Immediately add ½ cup pasta cooking liquid to keep garlic from burning; reduce heat to low and gradually add butter, swirling skillet and adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until a thick, glossy sauce forms.
Add the pasta to the skillet with squash and sauce and toss to coat. Add the lemon juice, ¼ cup Parmesan, 2 tablespoons mint, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes and toss to combine; season with salt and pepper.
Serve pasta topped with reserved walnuts, more Parmesan, and some mint.
DO AHEAD: Walnuts can be toasted a few days ahead of time. Store airtight at room temperature.