This is another quick delicious one-pot meal. Yay! My fave! Thank you, epicurious.com "Weekly Planner" section!
I've always been a big fan of the winter squashes. Well, all squashes, really, but particularly the sweet winter squashes. Butternut squashes, acorn squashes, delicata squashes, you give me some squashes and I will be a happy camper. Squashes. It's just fun to say.
If for some [unholy] reason you're not a lamb person, you could easily substitute lean ground beef or veal in this dish. We're lamb people, though. I wouldn't substitute any lighter meats such as ground turkey or chicken, I think you'd lose the magic of the iron-y bold red meat flavor (I want to say the "blood" flavor, which sounds gross, but it's actually kind of what I mean) being enhanced by the sweet butternut, which is in turn gloriously paired with the salty cheese.
When I took this picture, I had never tasted Greek kaseri cheese. I've since rectified the situation and can now tell you it tastes a bit like a sheepy funky slightly-gone-bad Parmesan, and I definitely mean that as a compliment. Good stuff. If you can't find it, I'd use either a mild salty feta or plain ol' Parmesan.
~ 2 cups butternut squash, peeled (be careful) and cut into ~1/2 inch cubes
4 oz ground lamb
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
pinch of ground cinnamon
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 cup canned pureed or crushed tomatoes (when I have a recipe that doesn't call for a whole can, I pour the rest into a Zip-loc and freeze it)
~ 1 cup low sodium chicken stock
handful of chopped cilantro (plus more for garnish)
handful of grated kaseri cheese (plus more for garnish)
4 oz penne (I like the Barilla Plus stuff)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. When it's hot, toss your butternut squash cubes with a little olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and roast until starting to brown around the edges, maybe 15 minutes. Give them a toss and flip and roast another 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Cook your pasta until just on the rare side of al dente, drain and set aside.
While those things are happening, prepare the sauce. In a large skillet, saute the lamb with the onion until the it has cooked through. You can drain at this point if you want to, but mine had very little fat so I didn't bother. Add the garlic and spices and allow to cook another minute or two, then add the crushed tomatoes. Let it all cook down for a few minutes, then add chicken stock as needed to keep the sauce loose.
When the squash is ready and the sauce has been simmering for 10 or 15 minutes, gently stir the squash into the sauce along with a handful of cilantro and kaseri cheese. Fold in the pasta and allow to cook together for one final minute, then serve with another sprinkle of cilantro and cheese on top.
Serves two, takes under half an hour.