Monday, October 19, 2015

Autumn Harvest Pesto Pasta


(Every once in a blue moon I have time to actually set up a decent photo.)

While at the Music City Food + Wine event this past year I visited the Barilla booth and sampled some pasta. They reached out to me around the time of the festival and asked if I wanted some samples of their new line of pasta, Pronto. With Pronto, you can cook the entire pasta dish without boiling the water first, and draining after. You can add in the pasta and water at the same time and cook the whole dish in one pan, rather quickly! I’m being completely honest here, we already use Barilla pasta a lot. I already had a ton of pastas in my pantry, and 90% of them are Barilla. I really like their whole wheat varieties, as well as their veggie pastas. They graciously sent me a big box full of pastas to try. (I am not being paid for this post, nor was there an agreement that I would even post about it.)

I started out with a basic pesto recipe they provided using a jar of their pesto sauce, but then put my own spin on it. I LOVED the very simple dish I threw together, and I loved how easy it was. The whole family loved it too! I had an acorn squash from my recent Green Bean delivery, and I wanted to incorporate that. I actually roasted the squash, so this wasn’t quite a one pot dish, but close. My husband really prefers some meat with his meal, so I sautéed in some apple chicken sausage and really thought the flavors of that paired perfectly with the squash, pesto & pasta. I think this dish would be great vegetarian if you wanted to omit the chicken sausage. I threw in a handful of spinach when I sautéed the chicken sausage too. To round out the dish was a little bit of cheese. And to be honest the 4 ounces of cheese I used was actually 2 slices of provolone cut up, and 2 sticked of mozzarella string cheese cut up. It was all I had, but it worked great!




Autumn Harvest Pesto Pasta

Yield: 4-5 servings

A great blend of pasta, pesto, seasonal acorn squash, and chicken sausage to round out the meal.


extra virgin olive oil
1 acorn squash
2 pre-cooked apple chicken sausages (such as Aidells, Al Fresco, or Trader Joe's brand)
large handful spinach
1 box of Barilla Pronto Penne
3 cups of water (or more)
1 8oz jar pesto (I used Barilla)
4 oz mozzarella or provolone cheese, diced
salt & pepper to taste

grated parmesan, optional


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut acorn squash open, remove the seeds. Slice and arrange on a baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, turning halfway through. Once removed from oven, let cool on pan, then slice into chunks. (I leave the skin on for baking, as once it's roasted the skin is pretty easy to remove before cutting into chunks.)

Slice the chicken sausages into rounds. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add in the chicken sausage & cook until they start to sear. Towards the end add in the spinach and saute until wilted. When done, transfer to a plate & wipe the skillet out.

Pour whole box of pasta into the skillet and add in 3 cups of water, adding more if necessary to ensure water covers the pasta. Turn the burner to high and set timer for 10 minutes. (Optional: add a bit of salt to taste.)

Cook on high, stirring occasionally, until 3/4 of the water is absorbed, at the 10 minute mark. Stir in the pesto and continue to cook for approximately 2 minutes. Then stir in the cheese. Turn burner off, and add in the spinach & chicken sausage, and the acorn squash. Toss together until well blended. Some of my cheese didn't fully melt, but I thought the little globs of cheese were good.

Plate, and sprinkle with grated parmesan if desired.

Recipe inspired by a recipe Barilla provided to me, it isn't available online. Basically the only similarities between theirs & mine is that I used their Pronto Penne & their pesto sauce. I did use it as a base for cooking times.


Thank you Barilla for the samples!

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