Meatless Monday: Pasta with Winter Squash and Tomatoes

Make Mark Bittman's savory fall pasta dish: ziti with butternut squash and tomato sauce, for Meatless Monday.
By: Michelle Buffardi
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Squashes I love, in order of preference: butternut squash, spaghetti squash, summer squash and acorn squash. No offense to acorn squash or anything, it just comes in last because I have a bad memory of one eaten in my childhood, drenched in maple syrup and studded with burned raisins (great job, grandma). But I do love it now, as long as it's cooked properly, say, roasted.

But enough about that, since it came in last. My number-one favorite squash, butternut, is the star of every soup du jour from now through Thanksgiving. And while butternut squash soup is divine (especially when topped with goat cheese and apple chips), butternut squash isn't just for soup. It can star in pasta, too.

Mark Bittman's fall pasta sauce is made with tomatoes, but it certainly isn't your average marinara. It's thick and full of savory-sweet  fall squash that clings to the pasta (use ziti with ridges for the most sauce-on-pasta magic). And since the squash doesn't need to be roasted, it's quick enough for an after-work Meatless Monday dinner.

Pasta With Winter Squash and Tomatoes

Recipe courtesy of Mark Bittman
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup sliced shallots
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 cups chopped tomatoes

1 1/2 to 2 pounds peeled, cubed or shredded butternut or other winter squash, about 5 cups

8 ounces ziti or penne cut pasta
Freshly chopped parsley or Parmesan, for garnish

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Put olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic, and pepper flakes and cook for about 1 minute; add tomatoes and squash, and cook with some salt and pepper.

When squash is tender, about 10 minutes for shreds, 15 or so for small cubes, cook the pasta until it is tender. Combine the sauce and pasta, and serve, garnished with parsley or Parmesan.

More Meatless Monday Recipes:

This week's Meatless Monday Mover and Shaker is documentarian Morgan Spurlock. He's best known for his 2004 Super Size Me, but he's continued to be a proponent of fresh, healthy food. Morgan backs Meatless Mondays -- being married to a vegan chef, he enjoys a lot of meat-free meals -- and of Food Day, the day, October 24th, dedicated to the transformation of American diet to include healthy, sustainable food. Morgan's quote on the Food Day website sums it up well, "Food Day is about eating more food that comes from farms, and less food that comes from factories."

[SNAP path="videos/morgan-spurlock-on-food-day" vid=" 0172982"]
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