And Now, For Fall

Few people will understand how much courage it took for me to give this recipe a try. When I was a kid, I had an abnormal hatred of squash. Don't ask me why, I just absolutely hated everything about it. The taste, the color, the texture. When I was four I was hospitalized because I had the flu and I was severely dehydrated, and the doctor assumed that I had found my way into a cabinet and eaten something poisonous. I remember his questions very clearly:

Doctor: "Marisa, do you know why you got sick?"
I nodded.
Doctor: "Did you eat something that made you sick?"
I nodded.
Doctor: "Which part of the house were you in when you ate something nasty?"
Me: "I was in the basement." (In my parents' old house, we would sometimes get to eat our dinner in the rec room downstairs so we could watch TV).
By the now the doctor is smiling and nodding, thinking he solved the mystery.
Doctor: "Marisa, did you eat something downstairs that made you sick?"
I nodded.
Doctor: "What did you eat? Did it make you sick right away?"
Me: "Yes it did, it was awful. I had to eat stuffed peppers and squash."

I seriously thought this doctor was going to pee himself laughing. He was convinced that I went down in the basement and ate some kind of cleaning product or rat poison. Little did he know as a child I was forced to stuffed peppers and squash, which in turn made me vomit uncontrollably for days (in my little kid mind, anyway). The next morning the nurse came in to replace the IV bag, and she told me they filled it with stuffed peppers and squash. hahahahaha.

Okay, enough with story time. I would like to state that I have overcome my childhood fear of squash, and I was brave enough to give Giada's penne with butternut squash and goat cheese recipe a try. Surprisingly, both Will and I really enjoyed it! I substituted whole wheat penne for regular, since I'm trying to watch what I eat. Since squash is in season, this is a fantastic dish to make for a fall weeknight.
Giada's Penne with Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese

  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 1 (2-pound) butternut or kombucha squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1 onion, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted (see Cook's Note)
  • 1 packed cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan

1. Put an oven rack in the upper third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

2. Spray a baking sheet, liberally, with vegetable oil cooking spray. Set aside.

3. Mix the squash and onion together and arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

4. Bake for to 40 to 45 minutes until the vegetables are golden and cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.
5. While the squash mixture is cooling, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 2 cups of the pasta water.

6. Put the pasta, goat cheese and 1 cup of pasta water in a large serving bowl. Toss until the cheese has melted and forms a creamy sauce.

7. Add the squash and onion mixture, the walnuts and the basil.
8. Toss well and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with Parmesan and serve.


  1. Haha! Great story! I didn't even know that happened. An IV bag? That was serious! I bet the doctor was laughing when you told him what you ate. :) I agree that it was brave of you to give this a try. The cut up squash is such a pretty orange color!

  2. Yep, it happened a long time ago, a few years before I met you. I was so traumatized by that incident I didn't eat anything even remotely squash-related until last year!


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