It was looking like one of those days. Heavy going at work, kid acting up, computer still misbehaving, nothing but rain and gloom outside, wondering if I had made an error in starting up this blog. At the end of the day I whipped dinner together, left instructions on the door, and bolted to yoga class, in dire need of industrial-strength stress relief.
Two hours later I returned, refreshed, to a calm household, a happy child, a baby snoozing in his swing, and dinner ready to eat. Small miracles are best.
My decision that I needed to get back into yoga (for both physical and mental health reasons) after having the baby had one immediate and unanticipated effect... on my cooking. If I'm going to class, I need to make something ahead of time that can be ready when I get back, or I risk throwing off the entire evening routine--and when you have small children, you mess with that routine at your peril. I am tentatively rediscovering the casserole, which I can prepare before I go, needing only to be put in the oven some time before I'm due home.
I have never thought of myself as a casserole sort of person. My reflex thought is that they're bland, heavy things that involve canned Cream of X Soup, and (let's be honest) totally lacking imagination. Like a lot of reflex thoughts, this one could stand some adjustment. Butternut Squash and Parsnip Baked Pasta is a good, solid dish for the end of winter, the nutmeg a surprise but not at all out of place. It is also an excellent way to use up the second half of that package of parsnips and the bulb end of that squash you bought to make something else.
As I get older I am less slavish about recipes, and I would readily use other root vegetables in this (make sure at least one of them has some color, though, just for the look), or throw in some beans or cooked chicken if you think it needs more oomph. With no additions, this served the two of us heartily after a stressful day, with some leftovers.
Listening to: Hildegard von Bingen