January 02, 2009

Pasta with roasted winter squash and tofu ricotta

Here's a recipe adapted from the New York Times. It's hearty without being heavy, easy to make and very nourishing. It pairs butternut squash with pasta. The original called for ricotta salata, a dry, salty form of ricotta that has been replaced here with tofu. I like to use whole wheat spaghetti (we're very fond of Whole Foods 365 store brand) but you could use your favorite pasta shape and formulation for this yummy entrée. Any dry winter squash would work here, but we already had butternut in the house.

The tofu is mixed with umeboshi paste and tahini to give it a slightly salty, zesty edge, but if you don't have umeboshi paste you could probably substitute some lemon juice and miso or salt. Umeboshi paste, plums and vinegar are very useful flavoring items. Used primarily in Japanese cooking, they make interesting additions to salad dressings and other dishes. I use it when I make sushi and it's great in the summer on fresh corn on the cob. In addition to being delicious, umeboshi is supposed to have health benefits, especially as an aid to digestion.

Pasta with roasted butternut squash
  • 1 small butternut squash (about 1-1/2 pounds), peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled and lightly crushed
  • salt and fresh pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary or sage, or 2 teaspoons fresh, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 to 1 pound pasta
  • 3-1/2 to 4 ounces firm or extra firm water packed tofu (I used 1/4 of a 14 ounce package)
  • 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons umeboshi paste (I used 1-1/2)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame tahini
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 450˚ Cover a baking sheet with foil.
  2. In a bowl, toss the squash with the garlic, pepper, herbs and i tablespoon of oil until the squash is coated with oil. Transfer to the baking sheet and roast in the oven for 30 minutes, or until tender and caramelized. Remove from the heat and transfer the squash to a wide serving bowl. Squeeze out the roasted garlic and add to the bowl, tossing gently with the squash. Keep warm.
  3. While the squash is roasting, bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions for al dente. Aim to have the pasta cooked just after the squash is ready.
  4. Add about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water to the squash.
  5. Drain the pasta and and add it with the tofu (see below), to the squash.
  6. Mix the noodles and tofu gently with the squash, remaining tablespoon of oil and the parsley.
Tofu ricotta: Place the tofu in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil and cook the tofu at a slow boil for five minutes. Drain the tofu and place in a small bowl. Press out as much water as you can with a fork or by using your hands. (Let it cool a little first.) Mash the tofu with a fork and mix in the umeboshi and tahini. It should resemble the texture of ricotta.


  1. I will definitely try this, as I love squash. This evening I tried a recipe that was a "Real Simple" recipe of the day. Most of their recipes are unappetizing-sounding, or not vegan, but this one was great.

  2. I'll check out that recipe. Thanks.

  3. Pumpkin and pasta are so great together. Your bowl looks wonderful.

    And Happy New Year!

  4. Thanks, Diann. And I'm glad there are now many choices for wheat-free and gluten-free noodles so even people who can't eat wheat can enjoy the combination of roasted squash and pasta.

  5. Delicious and so easy to make. I made it for an easy and healthy supper tonight and look forward to leftovers tomorrow.

  6. David,
    I love hearing from people who have tried a recipe. Thanks for your comment!

  7. This was our second Thursday dinner with your recipes (last week was Tuscan Stew). Would you believe Becca needs your food to survive the midwest winters and misses the drizzle? Anyway, this was just delicious. Looking forward to next Thursday.


  8. Peter,
    Becca should have whatever she needs to survive the winter - but just be glad you live in the Midwest and not the East Coast this year. They're getting pummeled.

    If you're calling the RAIN drizzle, you've been away too long. It's rain, rain rain.

    Next week you should try the baked polenta with tofu and kale.


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