Healthy-ish Creamy Butternut Squash Rigatoni with Lemon and Arugula

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During the week, in order to keep my life from spinning out of control and maintain some semblance of routine and self-care, I’ll try my best to eat “healthy-ish”.

This is mainly done to counteract my weekends, which is an entirely different story thats often sang to the tune of laissez-faire indulgence and complete gluttony.

“Healthy-ish” to me used to mean eating take out sushi three times a week (what? Sushi is healthy…right?) After being continually shocked by my seamless bills month after month (those salmon rolls really add up), I’ve turned a leaf and have made a concerted to focus on nourishing myself through cooking and eating my own food.

Even though it takes slightly more effort than opening an app on my phone and pressing order, I’ve come to enjoy this daily act of self reliance. Cooking often has allowed me to eat cheaply and seasonally. It’s forced me to learn new dishes out of sheer boredom of eating the same meals over and over again. It’s coerced me to be experimental and learn how to work within the constraints of my fridge when I’m unable or too lazy to go to the store. Most of my favorite recent recipes were conceived by slapping together stuff that I already had on hand, all mad-scientist like.

Yes, cooking is more work. But to be said, after a full day of staring at a computer and being plugged into my phone, there is something really gratifying about physically making something

Even though I eat and enjoy my fair share of grain bowls and leafy greens (more on that in the future) some days, especially when the days get shorter and colder, all I want when I come home is to tuck into a big bowl of creamy carbs. On the couch. Under a blanket.

This butternut squash rigatoni is the key. It tastes SO indulgent and rich, but it’s made of good stuff thats good for you. The sauce plant based, a puree of creamy butternut squash, leeks, slow roasted garlic and caramelized sweet vidalia onions. It’s rich and luscious without the heaviness of using actual cream. I accidentally used up all my olive oil for the veggies to be roasted, and made the decision of using butter to caramelize my onions. Best decision ever. You could make this entirely vegan by subbing the butter for olive oil, but unless you are vegan I would say use the butter.

To cut through the sweetness of the squash, I brightened it up with some lemon and red pepper flakes and a handful of zippy arugula (and to sneak in some extra greens!)

What does everybody else’s version of “healthy-ish” look like?

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Healthy-ish Creamy Butternut Squash Rigatoni with Lemon and Arugula 

The ingredients below is good for 4 hearty servings. The puree would be equally delicious as stuffing for ravioli (I would use less almond milk/veggie stock for a thicker consistency).

1 small butternut squash
1 head garlic
1 leek
1 onion (I used vidalia)
2 tbs butter
1 box rigatoni
3 tbs nutritional yeast (optional)
almond milk – unsweetened & unflavored
vegetable stock
2 handfuls arugula (to taste)
lemon and red pepper to taste
parmesan (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut and cube butternut squash and roughly chop the leek. Each veggie goes on it’s own baking pan. Toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Cut head of garlic horizontally, place in aluminum foil and drizzle olive oil on top + salt and pepper. Loosely wrap in the foil and place on the baking sheet with the squash.

Roast the leeks for 20 minutes until tender and the leafy parts start to brown and crisp. The squash and garlic will take a bit longer – about 45 minutes to an hour depending on how small you cube the squash. You’ll know when the squash is ready when it’s fork tender and starting to brown on the edges. The garlic will also be golden brown and the cloves a soft, buttery consistency.

Meanwhile – roughly dice the onion and slowly caramelize on the stovetop. I chose to use about 2 tbs of butter here instead of olive oil and it smelled SO. GOOD. Highly recommended, especially since theres no dairy or cheese in ths puree.

Okay – once your veggies are done roasting and caramelizing, cook your rigatoni (don’t forget to salt your pasta water!) Once your veggies aren’t dangerously hot, puree everything (squash, leeks, garlic, onions) in a food processor with the nutritional yeast. The nutritional yeast is optional, but I find that it adds a tasty umami that works well here. Add equal ratio of almond milk and veggie stock until the puree turns into a sauce-like consistency. Now taste! — season with S&P to your hearts desire.

Spoon your luscious squash sauce (hah) back into the pan that you used to cook your onions. Once your pasta is al dente, fold it into the puree(if sauce is still too thick, you can use a little bit of pasta water to thin it out). Toss in a handful or two of arugula and top with a squeeze of lemon and sprinkling of red pepper flake. We topped our pasta with some freshly grated parm, but the sauce is so creamy already that it doesn’t really need it. E

Enjoy!! xx

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