What’s for Dinner Tonight: A kid-friendly, one-pot pasta with one sneaky ingredient

Siri Daly, the NBC contributor and wife of TV presenter Carson Daly, knows that a family with kids in the house can’t have enough pasta recipes.

Sneaky one-pot Mexican pasta. Contributed by Jennifer Causey.

We’ve published several main-dish pasta meals in the past few weeks as families have been preparing for school, and here’s one more to add to the collection from Daly’s new book, “Siriously Delicious: 100 Nutritious (and Not So Nutritious) Simple Recipes for the Real Home Cook” (Oxmoor House, $26.99).

She adds a frozen butternut squash puree, which adds sweetness to balance the taco seasoning. The cup of taco sauce that she calls for is the smooth, tangy jarred salsa that will add flavor without the chunks of tomatoes. If your kids love salsa, just use their favorite, and don’t hesitate to use only a few tablespoons if you’re worried about it being too spicy for your tastes.

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Sneaky One-Pot Mexican Pasta

Everyone always assumes that because I write a food blog (and now a cookbook!), my kids must be fabulous eaters. Wrong! I have picky, picky eaters. Right around 18 months, each of them started rejecting nearly all healthy foods. I’ve felt everything from frustration, anger, shame and embarrassment over it. Yet on my good days, I realize their palates are still expanding and they won’t be like this forever. Case in point: My son now eats salads! Victory!

So I carry on, trying and sneaking: trying new foods, and when that doesn’t work, sneaking them into their meals. Cue this cheesy, one-pot Mexican pasta with squash, which sort of melts into the ground turkey, creating a slightly sweet counterbalance to the spicier Mexican flavors. Obviously, the best part about this dish is you can make it in about 30 minutes in one pot. The first time I made this, my oldest and youngest gobbled it up. The stubborn middle child? Well, we had a 1950s-style showdown. She sat there, crying, begging for a treat, resisting even one bite. Oh, well. Can’t win ’em all.

— Siri Daly

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground turkey
1/2 (1-ounce) package taco seasoning
1 (12-ounce) package frozen butternut squash puree, thawed
8 ounces uncooked pasta of your choice
2 cups chicken stock
1 (8-ounce) jar taco sauce or salsa
1 1/2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the ground turkey and cook, stirring, until crumbled and no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle in the taco seasoning and cook, stirring often, until well combined, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the squash, pasta, chicken stock and taco sauce, and bring to a boil over medium-high. Stir everything up, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until the pasta is al dente, 12 to 15 minutes.

Add the cheese, and stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is thickened. Sprinkle with a bit more cheese and the scallions, if desired, and serve. Serves 6.

— From “Siriously Delicious: 100 Nutritious (and Not So Nutritious) Simple Recipes for the Real Home Cook” by Siri Daly (Oxmoor House, $26.99)