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November 04, 2015

Autumn Pasta | Bucatini, Butternut Squash, Mushrooms, Roasted Garlic, Brussels Sprouts & Ricotta

At one of our favorite dinner spots, they recently added this Autumn Bucatini to the menu.  I love Bucatini.  If you haven't tried it, it is a spaghetti like noodle, but it has a tiny hole through it, like a straw.  It makes it thick, chewy and sort of, um, bouncy.  To make it a meal, they included roasted butternut squash, brussels sprouts, pancetta, roasted garlic, mushrooms and topped it with fresh ricotta.  I ordered it for dinner one night and picked it up to-go the next - so, so good.  I decided to replicate it at home and add shrimp, as well, but it stands alone as a very hearty pasta.

There are quite a few steps, and maybe more complicated than our typical weeknight meals, but all in all it was about 45 minutes from start to finish.  We also used 5 pans, which made the dish doing more work than usual... but, you can't talk to Mike about that ; )

It does have a tiny bit of pancetta in it, and with all of the recent discoveries about processed meats I thought it would be a good time to share how we are adapting.  I am not excited about making any of these adjustments, but here is what we plan to do : 

No more entrees of only processed meat (hot dogs, brats, etc.) except on occasion. 
Will I have a hot dog at Royals game sometime?  Probably.  Chili dog in the fall?  Yes.
Will I eat a BLT when summer tomatoes are at their best?  Yes.  Yes!  
Will I still use pancetta or bacon to add flavor to a pasta, soup, etc.?  Yes.  
Will I let Emma or Mike snack on genoa (their favorite...).  No, not all of the time.  And they're not happy about it ; )  
Will I serve or order a side of sausage or bacon for brunch?  Not as often... but probably sometimes.
Will we still continue to enjoy high quality beef a couple of times a week as we always have?   Yes.  We are lucky because the beef we eat comes from my parent's farm/back yard, goes to the butcher in their town and the directly to our freezer.  

I'm not sure if this is the right answer, but this is how we will proceed for the time being.  How are you adjusting?  

Autumn BucatiniButternut Squash, Mushrooms, Roasted Garlic, Brussels Sprouts & Ricotta

1 pound of bucatini pasta
8 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup of olive oil
1 butternut squash, 1/2" dice
2 cups of brussels sprouts, quartered
1 thick slice of pancetta
1 pound of mushroom
Sea Salt
1/4 cup of cream
Ricotta Cheese
Optional : Sauteed Shrimp
Parmesan Cheese

Roasted Garlic :
In a oven proof small bowl, place 6 garlic cloves (mince the remaining 2 and saute with mushrooms) and olive oil.  Place in 400 degree oven for 20+ minutes, or until starts to brown.  Meanwhile...

Toss the butternut squash in olive oil + sea salt and place on a sheet pan.  Roast in the same oven as the garlic for 15 minutes.  Ad brussels sprouts and roast for another 20 minutes until all start to crisp and brown.

Boil a large pot of salted water to cook the pasta.

In a large saute pan, brown pancetta until fat is rendered.  Add a tablespoon of olive oil with mushrooms and 1 teaspoon of sea salt.  Continue cooking until mushrooms are soft.  Add 2 cloves of minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

When pasta is al dente (almost done), strain it from the cooking water and add it directly to the pancetta and mushrooms.  Toss in the butternut squash and brussels.  Chop the roasted garlic cloves and add them along with the oil they cooked in.  Toss pasta and add sea salt if needed.

Serve with sauteed shrimp (optional) and a dollop of ricotta cheese on top.

Tiny hands love to help.

We peeled some of the brussels sprouts leaves to make them crisp up, along with the quartered ones.

We also love bucatini with bolognese... or anything.

I did a mix of baby bella and shitake mushrooms.

This is what the garlic looked like when I decided it was roasted enough.  I let it sit in the hot oil until it was time to chop it.  It was so sweet and yummmmy.

I sautéed shrimp in a separate pan, then added at the end.

Now that the sun is setting early, our dinner food photos won't be as beautiful without natural light.  Sorry : )

Real family dinner photo.  This would be great for a dinner party - all of the elements can be made ahead of time.  Just cook pasta and toss together before serving.

Highly unusual photo of Emma actually eating her dinner!

I hope to include more of these "real" food photos in the future.  Not as pretty - much easier to just snap before we enjoy rather than recreating the next morning for good light.  Do you mind too much?!



  1. I love the real photos!

  2. Your real food photos are still gorgeous and definitely blog worthy, to me. Keep on posting, I love any new ideas! (although, I have to be honest, this one looks a little too complex for me.)

  3. The amounts that you would have to eat of red and processed meat is far and away above the amounts that normally are eaten by people. This is yet another study that has gotten far too much media attention. Again, we look at the Mediterranean Diet which over and over is shown to be a healthy way to eat and enjoy a long life as being a realistic way for us to eat. If one was eating a hot dog 3 times a day and topping that with bacon, it would be concerning at every level. But for the average person, enjoying bacon with pancakes or French Toast or on a BLT, having a steak or roast beef dinner and enjoying a hot dog in the summer isn't going to lead to disease. I have a feeling this is a study that will be rescinded sometime in the future when it has already done its damage to our cattle industry. Please don't give this anymore credence than what it deserves which is nothing. Oh, and your recipe looks amazing! Planning on trying it!

    1. I hope you're right! Mike and I were talking about it and I said I can't be possible that a yummy Sunday roast with vegetables could be bad for you, right? I guess we all just do what we think feels right... : )

  4. I agree with Wendy. Given time, and peeling back the layers of the processed meat story, the truth will come out. ALL processed foods - boxed, canned or otherwise - aren't the best option for longevity. For whatever reason, animal agriculture seems to be the target of so much unwarranted scandal! Breaks my heart for those producers, like your dad, who work their fingers to the bone and often miss out on eating meals with their own families so that they might put food on the plates of other families, Keep eating that meat and making AMAZING meals!!

  5. Yum, looks good!! My take on the meat: I try to stick with things that were created for us to eat. So red meat, I certainly eat. From cows that are out in the pasture. I believe that's the healthiest option, and also the best way to take care of God's creation. On very rare occasions, I will purchase an organic processed meat product. The one with the fewest ingredients listed, generally. Reading ingredients is enough to take one's appetite away :-)
    Love the real life pictures of your dinner. Don't get me wrong, I like pretty as much as the next person, but this adds a dimension of warmth that styled photos can never attain.

  6. This looks delicious! You mentioned doing some steps ahead of time... Could you make the entire dish ahead, chill it and then rewarm in a chafing dish? Approximately how many does this serve? Thanks!

  7. I like the real time photos of your meals... it adds to the already homey and cozy feeling of your blog. And if it makes your life even easier, well that's perfect! ;) I just have to say thank you for so many wonderful recipes...I've made your cranberry apple crisp more times than I can count!

    As far as all of the latest information about meat, I've decided to keep with my "everything in moderation" philosophy. I've always purchased organic/grass fed/no artificial hormone/no artificial color everything for years, and even with that we've always consumed in moderation. I agree with the above comment - you'd have to eat large amounts each day of all these items to cause serious damage. It made me think back to the years when eggs were considered practically lethal - bad for your heart, bad for cholesterol, eat only the whites..etc etc. Now, eggs (yolk and all!) are considered a healthy power food. Our information is always changing and I agree with you - you have to do what feels right for you and your family.

  8. (oops, I was typing another comment and it disappeared. lets hope I didn't just send that! )
    first of all, your new bio pic!! BEAUTIFUL!! as for the WHO study, I'm frustrated by the way the media handled it. I think there are probably good new learnings in there but to label all meat as carcinogenic without any context (lifestyle, other risk factors, etc) is unnecessarily alarming. It doesn't help educate people or aid them in making better food choices, only scares them. I served bacon with the boys breakfast yesterday (but it will be a once a month thing) and we have beef stew on the weekend menu, so I can't say we are making huge changes. I will skip deli meat and really limit cured meats to a few times a year. For me the biggest take away was that buying preservative free, uncured, organic etc. isn't enough, that cooking meat releases chemicals that are harmful to our cell structure making us susceptible to disease. However....I still think a balanced diet with lots of variety is key and that there are no bad foods, just some you should have less often than others. (Says the person who just ate two slices of Ina's pumpkin roll for breakfast....:|)

    1. Our local grocery store sells preservative free bacon, deli meat, and sausages. We live in a pretty rural area so if you live in a bigger city, it is bound to be available. I find it much more delicious then the highly salted and preserved kind.

  9. Mimi F.4:09 PM

    Emma is adorable eating her bucatini! As someone who grew up on a pure mediterranean kosher diet (no pork products ever), I kind of already knew how bad processed meat was and since I've never been used to eating hot dogs, deli meats, etc. it's been more of a transition to just cut back on meat in general. We eat a lot of chicken and beef in my house (my parents love lamb but after realizing what I was eating at the age of 9, I never touched it again!). I think you're definitely getting your meat from the right place! I wish I had a farm that I can go to and get my meat from. I buy my meat from an organic store that gets it fresh from a farm. For Thanksgiving, they stock Shelton's organic turkeys and I always buy those. You're being smart about where your meat is coming from and that's the most important thing.


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