Jack O’Lantern Pasta

Written by Eydie Desser

We wanted to create an adorable Halloween dinner for our plant-based juniors and came up with the idea of making a Jack-o’-lanterns out of spiralized butternut squash.  The bright orange colored  butternut squash noodles are combined with a delicious butternut squash sauce, and make the face.  The eyes and nose are formed from smoky black beans and the mouth is made with sliced red cherry tomatoes.  The pumpkin is complete with asparagus forming the stem.  Not only is this so fun for kids to eat, it has all the makings of a super nutritious meal.

Ingredients

  • 1 (3-1/2 lb) butternut squash to spiralize, or 40 oz. packaged spiralized noodles
  • 1 (3-½ lb) butternut squash, diced to ½” pieces (or 4 cups pre-cut)
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 2 tsp. rosemary finely minced, or 1 tsp dried
  • ½ tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups house vegetable broth, or no-salt store bought vegetable broth
  • 1 cup fresh black beans, soaked overnight, if you want to make them smoky, or 1 can no salt black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ tsp. liquid smoke (if cooking your own black beans, otherwise leave it out)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch medium to thick asparagus, tough ends broken off
  • ¼ – ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400℉

Shelf placed in the upper third of the oven

Roast the Noodles:

  1. Place spiraled squash on a large parchment lined sheet pan. Sprinkle some vegetable stock and black pepper over the squash. 
  2. Roast for about 5 minutes, stir and roast another 2 minutes or until squash is tender. This happens quickly, depending on your oven, so check often so as not to burn the noodles.
  3. Remove noodles from the oven and reserve.


Make the Sauce:

  1. Dry sauté the onion and garlic: Heat a large saucepan over medium high heat for 1 or 2 minutes or until hot and when a piece of the chopped onion is added to the pan, it sizzles. 
  2. Add the rest of the chopped onion and stir quickly, lower heat to medium and cover.  Let cook for 2 minutes, lift cover and stir, add minced garlic and cover again, lowering heat to medium low.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, uncover and stir until the onion is translucent and just starting to brown.
  3. Add rosemary and paprika, and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds to a minute.
  4. Add diced butternut squash and stir to combine.
  5. Pour in vegetable stock and bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook until the butternut squash is tender, about 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the diced squash, and when the stock has reduced by half.
  6. Pour the mixture into the container of  a high speed blender, cover with the top and place a towel over the top, holding the top down, to protect yourself from the hot ingredients coming spewing out!   Blend until smooth.  Add more vegetable stock to make it creamier, but still a sauce consistency, or leave it a little chunky…whichever you prefer.


Make the Beans:

  1. For canned beans, simply pour into a strainer and rinse with bold water, reserve. For raw beans:  place in a 4-cup measuring cup and cover with 3 cups of water.  Let soak for 8 hours or overnight. Pour the soaked beans with the water into a 3-qt pot.
  2. Add ½ tsp. of liquid smoke and bring to a boil.  Turn down the heat to low and let simmer until the beans are cooked through.  This could take anywhere from 40 minutes to 1 hour depending on the freshness of your beans, so check every 20 minutes or so.
  3. Drain cooked beans and reserve.


Make the Asparagus:

  1. Prepare an ice water bath.
  2. Place the asparagus in a steamer basket and steam until just tender and still have a bit of a bite.
  3. Immediately place asparagus in an ice water bath until cool, then drain.


Make the Jack o’-lanterns:

  1. Rewarm the sauce and add the spiraled noodles to the pan.  Stir to thoroughly combine.
  2. With a spoon, place a mound of the noodles on each of 6-8 small plates, and pat down to form the face of the Jack-o’-lantern as shown in the picture.
  3. Add beans to form eyes and nose.
  4. Add sliced cherry tomatoes to make the mouth.
  5. Cut the asparagus spears short enough to form the stem.

Serve and watch your kids’ eyes light up with excitement. This is not a trick but an absolute treat!  Happy Halloween!!

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