Oli, I made this pasta dish because I had nothing else to eat in the house. So I used stuff in the fridge that was going to go bad if I didn't use it soon. And bechamel sauce is a quick and easy white sauce that's the base of all those delicious creamy dishes like mac and cheese. I added some smoked scamorza cheese (because it's always good to have cheese in the fridge!) to make a cheesy white sauce to coat all the ingredients before I baked it. Sorry I didn't take a picture of all the ingredients beforehand...I didn't know where I was going with this dish so I threw a bunch of things in! Sorry it's kind of complicated - my pasta dishes are usually much easier to make.
1. Ingredients: Bechamel sauce (flour, butter, milk, salt), cavatappi noodles (you can use whatever noodles you like - but it's nice to use a hollow pasta so that sauce gets all up in there), spinach, butternut squash.
2. For the bechamel sauce: 3 tablespoons of butter, 3 tablespoons of flour, 3 cups of HOT milk, pinch of salt and pepper. Melt the butter in a pot - when it's melted put in the flour and whisk for a couple minutes to cook out the raw flour taste.
3. After the butter/flour mixture (called a roux, which is a thickening agent) has cooked a couple minutes, slowly pour in the hot milk and whisk until everything is incorporated. Remember to use hot milk because if you pour cold milk in, your sauce will come out grainy. Whisk constantly so you don't scald the bottom of the pan until the sauce thickens up, enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add salt and pepper to your taste.
4. I sauteed the spinach in some bacon fat (yeah, I like to keep bacon fat in the fridge), garlic, salt, and pepper until it was nice and wilted down.
5. As for the butternut squash, I cut it in half, scooped out the seeds, and rubbed it with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. I roasted it in the oven at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes. You can use your discretion when roasting veggies - just check it once in awhile to see if it's soft enough and to your liking.
6. Cook the pasta in salted, boiling water. But make sure it's slightly undercooked because it's going to finish cooking when you bake it. After you drain it, put it back in the emptied pot. Throw in the diced butternut squash, sauteed spinach, and bechamel. Toss everything together. You might have to add more salt and pepper. Put everything into a baking dish.
7. Top the pasta with more grated cheese so it can form a nice brown crust. I used mozzarella and parmesan.
8. Then bake the dish at 375 degrees until the top is bubbling and gold brown - about 15-20 minutes. Enjoy!