Great Adaptations: Butternut Pasta and Monkey Bread (sold separately)


Monkey bread!

Should have greased a bit more, but no worse for the wear!


Mmmm, more fall.


So it’s been a bit again since I’ve posted, and I have photos saved up from two recipes I made.  I didn’t have daylight to my advantage in these pictures so I’m less than thrilled with the ultimate results, but both were pretty tasty, so I thought it necessary to share.  The first recipe, the Butternut Squash Pasta was taken from an awesome pasta cookbook, and heavily adapted by me based on ingredients I had on hand.  Hey, when life gives you half a butternut squash, onions and a slab of precooked ham, make pasta.  In fact when life gives you anything, make pasta. Unless its a gluten allergy, then make special pasta.  Now, some might say that this is just glorified baby food tossed in pasta.  But this is a unique dish, which I think perfectly captures the type of food you want in the fall, except lightened up a bit, and super fast (compared to roasts and soups).  I started out with half the leftover squash in my fridge that I wanted to use before it went bad.  When I saw this recipe called for pumpkin, I figured I cold substitute the squash because it’s literally in the same plant family. The recipe called for pancetta, shallots, and pumpkin.  I subbed out the shallots for onion and ham for the pancetta.  I also added a few leaves of fresh sage to the pan, whole, and took them out after they had browned a bit.This is a slightly sweet dish, but the smokiness from the ham added a nice balance to the sauce, making it more palatable to those averse to sweet main courses.  Actually this pasta dish would make a nice side too if you wanted it to, alongside a pot roast or roasted chicken.

Diced squash with the sage I used to lightly flavor the sauce.


I would definitely make this dish again, but I think I would use the recommended shallot just because they have such a unique flavor that I love and I think they would really add another level of complexity to the dish.  Also I would be curious to see how different the flavors would be if I used the ingredients actually called for.


Penne with Pumpkin

From The Silver Spoon Pasta cookbook (my adaptations in purple)



  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 1 shallot, chopped ( about a quarter of a white onion)
  • 1/3 cup finely diced pancetta or bacon ( about 1/4 of a thick cut slice of precooked smoked ham)
  • 1 pound 2 ounces pumpkin, peeled, seeded and diced (the entire round half of a butternut squash, same prep)
  • scant 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 12 ounces penne rigate ( 16 ounces Rigatoni)*
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley (I used dried and added it into the sauce instead of at the end)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Heat the oil in the pan.  Add the shallot and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5-8 minutes until lightly browned.  Add the pancetta or bacon, increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, for 4-5 minutes.  Add the pumpkin, season with salt and pepper (remember the pancetta or ham is salty), lower the heat and simmer, gradually stirring in the wine, for about 20 minutes until the pumpkin is pulpy (? I wasn’t sure what this meant so I just cooked it until it was soft enough to mash with a fork).  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter.  The sauce should be creamy and moist.  Cook the penne in plenty of salted boiling water until al dente.  Drain, return to the pan and pour the pumpkin sauce over.  Transfer to a warmed serving dish, sprinkle with the parsley and Parmesan and serve immediately.
(Serves 4)
*No matter which cut of pasta you use, I highly recommend, of my own free will, the DeCecco brand of pastas, which are very dense and difficult to overcook, almost guaranteeing an al dente cook every time.  Another note about the pasta, I saved about 1/2 cup of the cooking water in case the sauce wasn’t moist enough, which you can add at your discretion, gradually, til it reaches the consistency you want.
And now onto the monkey bread, probably the real lure of this post. Sigh.  What is there left to say about it that hasn’t already been said?  So far, I haven’t met a person who doesn’t like this monkey bread.  I’ve made it about  3-4 times now and it has been mind-bogglingly good every time.  It is a food which produces silence–the marker of truly good grub.  The ingredients are simple, and you can make it the night before and refrigerate the assembled bundt form if you want to, because the process is somewhat long.  After the dough has proofed, you flatten it out into a big square or rectangular shape, then cut that down into approximately 1 inch squares.

First batch of cutting done, 7/8 of the rectangle to go!

 Then you roll them in melted butter, and then a mixture of brown sugar and a few teaspoons of cinnamon.

So much simultaneously wrong and right here.

 THEN, you assemble these buttery, sugary bits of dough in a well-greased (oops under-greased this time) bundt pan.

Here we go, assembly.

 The caramelized brown sugar melded with the butter is perfect.  Don’t worry, it’s perfectly normally while cutting, dipping and placing the Nth bit of dough into the bundt pan to experience what I like to call the “Why the #^%#$ did I start this recipe?” moment.  Before the expletives really fly, relax and imagine the best cinnamon bun you have ever had… got it?  This will be better.  On that note, do everything you can to eat this warm.  It will change you.

Post-baking, this is what you are going to see. Oh, and the smell while cooking is AMAZING,

Find the awesome, heavily adapted (from various sources ) recipe here.  This recipe also makes a glaze for the top, but I’m not a big glaze fan so I skip it.  But by all means, glaze away! And now, for the remaining pictures of the two recipes:

More prep!




Slight Close-up.


Ooooh, saucy.



Dexter likes squash!

Right after I poured the hot pasta directly into the sauce.


Happy adapting chefs!




2 comments on “Great Adaptations: Butternut Pasta and Monkey Bread (sold separately)

  1. Sasa says:

    Ooh, monkey bread – that was so good, I feel inspired to make it again!

  2. Jo Citro says:

    Mmmmmm….. mouth is watering for a piece of monkey bread. Temptress. More, more, more!!!!

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