Inexpensive 30-Minute Dinner: Pasta With Ham and Creamy Butternut Squash Sauce
Some days you just don't feel like cooking or have much time to cook. That's when you need something easy to throw together but more nutritious and economical than take-out food. This simple, one-pan pasta dinner with ham and a creamy butternut squash sauce may be the answer. You can put the dish together and cook it in about 30 minutes. Plus, the recipe sneaks in vegetables that help form a savory-sweet sauce. Complemented by smokey chopped ham, the dish appeals to adults and kids and is great for lunch another day if you have any left over. I used little shell-shaped pasta in the version in the photo, but you can substitute other pastas, if you'd prefer. Macaroni, ziti, even linguine will all work fine, but you may have to adjust the cooking time a little, depending on the pasta. Try the dish with a green salad alongside and maybe some fresh (sourdough?) bread. Enjoy!
Pasta With Ham and Creamy Butternut Squash Sauce -- Serves 4+
1 teaspoon of canola oil
1/2 an onion, chopped
3 cups of water
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon of lemon pepper
1 12-ounce package of frozen pureed winter (butternut) squash
8 ounces of smallish pasta (shells, macaroni, etc.)
1/4 cup of chopped fresh parsley
2 cups of ham, chopped into small cubes
4 ounces (half an 8-ounce block) of low-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel), cut into small cubes
Heat a large skillet or chef's pan over medium high heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the chopped onion and saute it for a few minutes until it begins to soften. Stir in the garlic powder, nutmeg, and lemon pepper. Add the water and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the frozen squash and stir the mixture periodically until the squash thaws and merges with the rest of the ingredients. Bring the mixture back to a boil, stir in the pasta, and cook the mixture, partially covered, for about 5 minutes. Stir in the ham and continue cooking the mixture, again partially covered, for 5-10 minutes or until the pasta is done and the sauce thickens. Turn off the heat. Stir in the cream cheese until it melts into the sauce. Stir in all but a tablespoon of the parsley. Sprinkle the remaining parsley on top of the pasta just before serving the pasta.