The first round of report card writing starts tomorrow. My time to cook and feel calm in my happy place is very quickly diminishing, and my stress level is just as quickly increasing. After a few years at this teaching gig, I think I’m starting to figure a few things out. My goal this year has been to be as ready as I can for the stressful times, and do all that I can to front load the work. I have most of my units planned, I’ve planned out how to make my marking more efficient, and how to keep my classrooms organized for myself and my students. No matter how prepared I am though, I find that report cards still jump out at me like I didn’t know they were coming, and I have to spend many late nights getting through the mountain of work. I also somehow have to find time for my adult band and dance classes – and a band camp!
With all of my personal and professional things piling up, I still need to remember to eat and sleep. I miss getting to bake when I want, so I’m making more of an effort to cook good meals for dinner most nights of the week. I’m trying to pick quick and easy recipes that are still made from scratch. I’ve just recently created a very quick and easy recipe for Butternut Squash Stuffed Pasta. I had intended to make Butternut Squash Ravioli, but I just couldn’t find the time to make pasta and the ravioli. I did find the time to make the filling though – between the 3 dozen cupcakes I tried to make, but threw out because I was too distracted with my school work to pay attention to my baking. Thankfully, roasting a squash is relatively easy and requires very little attention.
Try out this recipe on a busy week night, when you know you should eat well but are low on time. There is some preparation involved, but it comes together quickly with great yields after. To make things even faster the nights I’ve made it for dinner, I made the filling a few days before and stored it in the fridge until I was ready to use it. The night of dinner, I cooked the pasta then stuffed it with the pre-made filling. Then I covered it in a cheese sauce with more cheese on top. Into the oven it went, and came out perfectly yummy – with not sweat from me! I’ve used large shells and manicotti. Both were excellent. One night I sprinkled hazelnuts on top, because I cooked the roux too long (again, I wasn’t paying attention). It made enough for 4 people to stuff themselves, and then for 2 leftover meals the next day. Now that’s what I call multitasking. Not only do you get a great meal, you don’t have to get up the next morning to make yourself a lunch! It’s also a vegetarian dish – you could use this for an easy, Meatless Monday meal as well.
Lactose-Free Butternut Squash Stuffed Pasta
Yield: 6 servings
Inactive Prep Time: 45 minutes | Active Prep Time: 30 minutes | Cooking Time: 20 minutes
1, 2-pound butternut squash
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp ground sage
1 tbsp lactose-free butter
1 tsp crushed garlic
3 ounces parmesan cheese
1 box large pasta shells or manicotti
1 tbsp lactose-free butter
1 tbsp flour
1 cup lactose-free milk
1 tsp dry mustard
2 cup lactose-free cheese, grated
Crushed hazelnuts (optional)
1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Carefully cut the butternut squash into half lengthwise. Scoop out and discard the seeds.
3. Place the squash flesh side down on a baking pan. Roast in oven for 30 minutes, or until the flesh is fork tender.
4. While the squash is roasting, dice the onion. Saute the onion in a skillet on medium heat for roughly 5 minutes, with 1 tbsp butter and the sage, salt and pepper. Allow the onion mixture to cool slightly.
5. When squash is cool enough to handle, peel off and discard the skin. Mash the flesh in a bowl.
6. Combine the squash and the onion mixture. I used my immersion blender to make the filling smooth.
7. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
8. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta shells or manicotti and boil until al dente – about 6 minutes. Strain water from pasta.
8. While the pasta is cooking, add the remaining butter to a small pot. Allow the butter to melt over medium heat.
9. When butter has melted, add the flour and whisk until smooth. Stir constantly for roughly 2 minutes, or until the mixture has browned.
10. Slowly pour in the milk. Add the dry mustard, salt and pepper. Stir occasionally for 10 minutes, or until the milk mixture has thickened.
11. When the mixture has thickened, add 1 cup of the cheese. Stir until the cheese has melted.
12. Fill a piping bag (or a Ziploc baggie with the tip cut off) with the squash mixture. Fill each shell or manicotti with filling.
13. Line a baking pan with the filled pasta. Pour the cheese sauce over. Cover with the remaining cheese.
14. Cook the pasta in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the cheese on top has browned. Sprinkle the finished pasta bake with crushed hazelnuts if using them. Enjoy!