Recipe Redo: Giuliana Rancic’s Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

09/18/2013 at 01:57 PM ET

Maxwell Ryan The Kitchn Butternut Squash Pasta
Emma Christensen

Maxwell Ryan is the founder of Apartment Therapy and The Kitchn, a daily web magazine all about home cooking and kitchen design. Visit every Wednesday for his spins on celebrity recipes, tips for cooking in a small space and much more. 

Here’s a trick we love to do at The Kitchn: Take a healthy salad and extend it into a hearty (but still healthy!) main course.

The flavors in Giuliana and Bill Rancic‘s delish Roasted Butternut Squash over olive oil-tossed spinach leaves called to me, but I wanted something more than a salad.

To turn this from starter to entree, I decided to wilt the spinach and serve it, with the squash, over whole-wheat pasta. I teamed it with a warm sauce inspired by the lemon juice in Giuliana’s salad dressing. The secret ingredient? Mascarpone! One of my favorite soft cheeses, it’s perfect for making a quick, creamy sauce. It has a milky, sweet flavor similar to ricotta, and it melts wonderfully when stirred into hot ingredients.

With fall weather creeping in, I hope you enjoy this hearty one-dish meal.

Maxwell Ryan The Kitchn Butternut Squash Pasta
Emma Christensen

Maxwell Ryan The Kitchn Butternut Squash Pasta
Emma Christensen

Maxwell Ryan The Kitchn Butternut Squash Pasta
Emma Christensen

Butternut Squash and Wilted Spinach with Whole Wheat Pasta

Serves 4-6

1 small butternut squash (about 2 lbs.)

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. salt, divided

½ cup whole pecans

½ lb. whole wheat pasta

½ cup mascarpone cheese

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

1 tbsp lemon juice (from ½ lemon)

1 bag (6-8 oz.) baby spinach

1. Arrange two racks in the oven, one in the top third and one in the lower third. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Peel the squash, scrape out the seeds and cut squash into ½-inch cubes. In a medium bowl, toss the cubes with a tablespoon of olive oil and ½ teaspoon salt, and spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast on the lower rack in the oven until the squash is tender and beginning to show caramelized brown spots, 25 to 30 minutes. Stir the cubes every 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

3. While the squash is roasting, spread the pecans on a second baking sheet and roast on the top rack until browned and very fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes. Nuts roast quickly at this high temperature, so keep a close eye on them and remove if you see any of the nuts beginning to burn. Transfer the roasted nuts to a cutting board. Roughly chop when cool enough to handle, then set aside.

4. When the squash is ready, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat and cook the pasta until it is al dente (cooked through but still firm). Scoop out a cup of pasta water and set it aside. Drain the pasta.

5. Return the pasta to the pot and set it over low heat. Stir in the mascarpone, parmesan cheese, lemon juice and ½ teaspoon salt. When the cheese has melted and become creamy, add the spinach and stir until the spinach is wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the roasted squash and chopped pecans.

6. If the pasta seems too thick and sticky, stir in a little of the reserved pasta water until creamy again. Taste and add more salt and pepper if desired. Serve immediately.


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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms
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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms

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On a clear day, you can see forever—or at least that’s the wicked thought behind L.A. designer Agi Berliner’s transparent idea: see-through jeans. Exhibitionists notwithstanding, most folks wear them over bathing suits or as attention-getting evening wear with halters, garter belts and body stockings. Created for the disco crowd, the $34 jeans are selling like, well, hot pants. In just six weeks, 25,000 pairs have already been sold in such major department store chains as Macy’s, Bonwit’s and Saks.

“What’s limiting American designers is that we’re afraid to do something different,” says Berliner, 32, a Hungarian émigré who fled with her family to the U.S. in 1956. Agi thought up the gimmick in London while marveling at the way plastics were being employed by designers of punk fashion. In her L.A. office, where she designs for La Parisienne junior sportswear, Agi spent five days on the phone and six weeks testing to come up with the right plastic.

Agi herself tried out the French-cut jeans with the zipper in front, and quickly found several problems: Some plastics tore away from stitching, others wouldn’t bend and all fogged with perspiration. The ideal material proved to be a vinyl supplied by a bookbinder. The steam was eliminated with a series of vents behind the knees and in the crotch. “They’re no hotter than polyester pants,” claims Agi, “and if you wear them with tights, they won’t stick to your legs.”

Whatever the discomfort and despite the problem of Saturday night feverishness, discomaniacs report one major advantage of the plastic pants: no laundry bills. To keep Berliner’s see-through jeans clear, all the wearer needs is a little Windex.

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Ceci dit, je l’ai trouvé grotesque …Pulvar, de moins en moins crédible

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