Friday, 29 April 2011

Carbs for Keswick

Oh dear, I've been meaning to share this amazing pasta recipe on here for weeks - please excuse the delay!

I currently have carbs on the brain! It's the Keswick Half Marathon on Sunday, and I'm getting more and more excited, and more and more nervous, by the day! I'm slowly upping my carb intake throughout this week - I'll need all the power I can get to manage some of those hills, and I can't help thinking that my ignorace as a first time half marathon runner last year was what powered me through! I can now run 13 miles quite easily, without too many aches and pains afterwards. 13 miles around York makes for a rather enjoyable morning, but 13 miles around one of the hilliest races in the UK might be somewhat tougher!

I've been training H A R D. Much harder than last year (when I couldn't train thanks to a bad knee injury), and much harder than I thought I'd manage in the very limited free time I have. I've been running at work in my lunch hour, occasionally running after work when I can muster the energy, and, without fail, running a long long run almost every Saturday morning of 2011 so far.

And I confess now, to the world, that I am a PARTY POOPER on Friday nights! I go to bed at 9:30. I don't drink a drop of alcohol. I don't eat cheese. I don't eat spicy food.

I really needed to add some crazy Friday night joy to my Friday evenings, so we started cooking this recipe. And ok, it has cheese in it. You could even say that it's cheese-loaded, in fact. I confess, every time we make this I decide beforehand that I won't put cheddar on top, but I always do - we just don't eat it the night before a 13 mile run (it works for 10.5 miles, I can vouch for that!). Alongside this, I use low fat cream cheese rather than full fat - I definitely don't want to still be digesting last night's tea on my Saturday run: yet another compromise.

Cream cheese and butternut pasta bake
Serves 3 or 4

400g wholemeal pasta (we use Penne)
Half a butternut squash, cubed (secret: we buy it frozen!)
1 broccoli, cut into florets and stalky chunks (mmm I love the stalk!)
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small tub of cream cheese
1/2 tsp nutmeg
salt and pepper
grated cheddar cheese
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds

1. Heat the oven to 200C. Spread the squash onto an oiled baking tray and sprinkle with nutmeg. Roast for about 30 mins until soft.
2. Meanwhile, cook the pasta and stir fry the onion, garlic and broccoli in a large wok or pan. Drain the pasta and add to the vegetable pan, then add the roasted squash. Mix together and season with salt and pepper.
3. Spoon out the cream cheese into the pasta and vegetable mix. Stir well so it all melts properly into the veg. Spoon into a large baking dish, sprinkle with the grated cheese and top with the pumpkin seeds. Bake in the oven for half an hour until the top is crispy and everything is bubbling.

Here I used spinach instead of broccoli, and breadcrumbs instead of seeds - just as amazing!

Favourite pasta dish ever!

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