We wanted to create a pasta dish that brought out the delicate, earthy flavor hiding in supermarket mushrooms. We selected cremini mushrooms, which have a meatier texture and a more intense, woodsy flavor than button mushrooms but are still easy to find.
Butternut squash gave the dish heft and a subtle sweetness.
To start, we sauteed the mushrooms with aromatics and a small amount of salt to help draw out their liquid, then added the squash. The liquid released by the mushrooms was just enough to steam the squash, and cooking both together gave the smaller mushroom pieces time to brown.
We removed the vegetables, and then poured in chicken broth and water to cook our pasta. Adding heavy cream toward the end of cooking, and then stirring vigorously while mixing in Parmesan cheese, drew out the pasta’s starches and created a thick, creamy sauce, into which we folded our meaty cooked vegetables.
A splash of lemon juice, a sprinkling of fresh chives, and some toasted pine nuts were the perfect finishes.
Creamy Rigatoni With Mushrooms, Butternut Squash and Pine Nuts
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 large shallots, minced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 teaspoons minced fresh thyme or 1-1/2 teaspoons dried
- 12 ounces cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced thin
- 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided, plus more to taste
- 1 -1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (4 cups)
- 2-1/2 cups water, plus extra as needed
- 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 pound rigatoni
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
- Pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium until shimmering. Add shallots and cook until softened, about 3 minutes.
Stir in garlic and thyme; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in mushrooms and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until mushrooms begin to release liquid, about 4 minutes.
Stir in squash, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender and lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Transfer vegetables to bowl and cover to keep warm.
Add water, broth and 1/4 teaspoon salt to now-empty pot, scraping up any browned bits, and bring to boil. Stir in pasta, return to vigorous simmer, and cook, stirring often, until pasta is nearly tender, about 10 minutes.
Stir in cream and continue to cook until pasta is tender and has absorbed most of liquid, about 4 minutes.
Add Parmesan and stir vigorously until sauce is creamy and pasta is well coated, about 30 seconds. Stir in reserved vegetables and lemon juice; cook until heated through, about 1 minute.
Remove from heat; adjust sauce consistency with extra hot water as needed. Stir in chives; season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle each portion with pine nuts. Serves 4 to 6.
Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 311 calories, 9 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, no cholesterol, 247 mg sodium, 45 g carbohydrate, 8 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 9 g protein
“Cook It in Your Dutch Oven”