Butternut squash and pasta are equally fantastic; however, when they come together in restaurants there's usually a lot of butter and sugar involved. I managed to figure out a way to make them work together without heavy doses of brown butter sauce, and here's the result.
Butternut Squash Pasta Salad Ingredients:
-12 oz (before cooking) whole wheat penne pasta
-2 tbsp olive oil
-8 oz diced butternut squash (I used pre-cubed butternut squash in a bag from Trader Joe's)
-12 oz cremini mushroooms
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1 yellow onion, diced
-1 tsp oregano
-1/2 cup basil, chopped
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
-salt, to taste
-grated parmesan cheese, to taste
Before I tended to my veggies, I got the penne boiling in some water per instructions on the pasta package.
First, I sauteed the mushrooms in cooking spray over one medium-high heat burner, until the mushroom juices ran, and then I drained the juice and turned off the heat. In a separate pan, I sauteed the onions and garlic over medium-high heat with the olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano. I sauteed this mixture until the onions were translucent. While those 2 pans were going, I gave the cubed squash about 3 minutes in the microwave (in a microwave safe bowl with about an inch of water at the bottom and saran wrap over the top). Once the squash had softened in the microwave, I put it in a well-sprayed frying pan with the already cooked onions and garlic. Then I added the basil, and stirred over medium heat until the squash was soft.
After the squash was softened to my liking, I added the cooked penne pasta and the mushrooms, so everything could mix together in an extra-large pan over low heat for several minutes.
To top it off, I grated some parmesan on top. In this instance, I served the pasta salad vegetarian with healthy baked chicken on the side. (Click here for that chicken recipe). If you don't want to bake the chicken, you could also poach chicken breasts and shred them up, then mix them in the pasta salad. I've eaten this salad both ways and was pleased with each result (though I must stay, I'm kind of obsessed with the baked breaded chicken).