Fall Inspired Pasta Salad

Fall Inspired Pasta Salad.png

Pasta salad is one of my favorite dishes in the summer. It's an excuse to use all of my favorite, hydrating, vegetables. Plus, all you have to do is toss it together! It really can't get any easier to make.

After scrolling through instagram and seeing a plethora of root vegetables, dried fruit, and warming flavors (plus I had a pack of Banza pasta in my cabinet), I decided to take the typical pasta salad and give it a fall spin.

I actually submitted this in Banza's recipe contest where you have to use 5 ingredients or less and the ones I chose other than the pasta were:
 

  1. Roasted butternut squash
  2. Blanched spinach
  3. Dried cherries
  4. Mixed nuts
  5. Gorgonzola cheese crumbles
     

My step-dad suggested I blanch the spinach to bring out their green color. To be honest, I've only read about blanching and never actually did it, so after a nice little YouTube tutorial, I did it. Here is why you would want to blanch and how to do it:
 

  • Some vegetables get brighter after blanching. This might make them look more appetizing in dishes like salads and when cooking for guests.
  • Less time cooking. For this recipe, instead of letting them sit in the skillet until they were wilted, they cooked in only 30 seconds.
  • Seals in nutrients, especially before freezing them. The enzymes in frozen vegetables, if not inactivated, can cause mineral loss and color changes. Blanching deactivates these enzymes and locks in the nutrients before freezing.
  • Can be easier to digest. Instead of chowing down a bunch of raw kale for example, you can blanch them, making them softer for easier digestion.
     

How to blanch spinach:

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil.
  2. While that's heating up, have a bowl of ice water nearby.
  3. Take your washed spinach, and place in the boiling water for 30 seconds.
  4. Once the time is up, strain the cooked spinach and get rid of the boiling water.
  5. Place the warm spinach in the ice water. This will stop the cooking process.
  6. Once cooled, take out and dry them (I layed them on paper towel).
  7. Voila! Ready to freeze, or use in dishes like this pasta salad or soups.
     

Ingredients:

  • One package of Eat Banza (it's an 8 oz. box)
  • 3 cups cubed raw butternut squash
  • 1 tbsp. olive or coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries
  • 1/3 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts + pecans)
  • 3 cups packed dry spinach
  • 1/4 cup gorgonzola
  • 1/4 cup avocado oil (can use olive oil)
  • Salt, pepper, other spices
  • Optional: chicken sausage
     

Directions:

  • Cook your pasta
  • Toss butternut squash cubes in a little olive oil, and roast at 400F for about 20 minutes or until soft
  • Blanch spinach (see directions above)
  • Get all other ingredients together
  • Place pasta in a large bowl
  • Add in butternut squash, spinach, nuts, dried cherries, cheese, spices, and chicken sausage if you choose, and toss
  • Drizzle in the avocado/olive oil and toss again.
  • Grab those hoodies, grande PSL's, go pumpkin-picking and enjoy this fall pasta salad!