Warm Pasta Salad with Butternut Squash, Apple, Goat Cheese & Pecans

We flew back
to Ontario at the end of January for a wonderful 2 week stay with our daughter, son-in-law and 2 grandkids - granddaughter age 3 and new grandson just 8 weeks old. For several years when we visited I just took over the cooking, but stepped back as my daughter truly came into her own. I love her cooking.

She uses a recipe app called Mealime where you create a menu for the week by choosing several recipes, the serving size (2-4-6), and then click a button to create your shopping list.  As a busy mother of two who also was working from home, this has been a life saver. I use this app myself sometimes and have many favorites, but when I go back I get to try new  ones she has found. I try to step in every 3rd or 4th day to cook so she gets a break, but best love the days she takes the lead. 

Of the many wonderful dishes she made last time, this was my favorite.  It's a vegetarian pasta dish with a unique mix of flavors that really wow.  Even my husband who prefers meat with each meal enjoyed this one as it is really filling, especially if you use a healthy whole wheat pasta.

I can't wait to make this now that Glen and I have recovered from our "visiting the grandkids" colds. Turns out visiting during a high flu season, and taking over preschool and grocery  runs offered a lot of exposure, but I wouldn't have changed a minute of our time there.

Enjoy! And if you make it let me know what you thought. Also you can visit the Mealime website to check it out before you download the app. It is a really great resource if you're busy.  I mean it makes your shopping list! WOW!

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Warm Pasta Salad with Butternut Squash, Apple, Goat Cheese & Pecans
4 Servings

Ingredients -

1                    Small butternut squash
1 pkg             Fresh Thyme
2                    Gala apples
2 cloves         Garlic
4 oz.              Goat cheese
2/3 C             Dry roasted Pecans
10 oz.            Rotini pasta
1                    Shallot
Balsamic vinegar
Black pepper
Dijon mustard
Extra virgin olive oil

Instructions - 

Preheat oven to 425°F. 

Wash and dry the apples, butternut squash and fresh thyme. 

Quarter and core apples, then cut each quarter into ¾-inch cubes; transfer to a large baking sheet pan. Trim and peel squash. Halve lengthwise, scrape out seeds, and cut into ¾-inch cubes; add to the baking sheet with the apple. Slide thyme leaves off the stems; discard the stems. Sprinkle leaves over the apple and squash, drizzle with 4 tsp olive oil, then season with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Toss to combine and spread out in an even layer.

Place baking sheet in the oven and roast, stirring halfway through, until apple and squash are golden and fork-tender, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven.

Meanwhile, fill a large pot about halfway with hot water (from the tap), cover, and bring to a boil. Uncover, add 1 tsp salt and the rotini pasta, and stir for a few seconds. Cook until desired firmness, 8-10 minutes. Drain and rinse in a colander.

While the pasta is cooking, place 2 T olive oil, 2 T balsamic vinegar, 2 tsp Dijon mustard, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp black pepper in a large bowl; whisk to combine the dressing. Peel and mince garlic and shallot; add both to the bowl with the dressing. Stir to combine and set aside.

Roughly chop pecans and set aside.  When the apple, squash, and pasta are done, add to the bowl with the dressing; gently stir to combine the pasta salad.

To serve, divide warm pasta salad between 4 plates or bowls. Crumble goat cheese over top and sprinkle with pecans.