Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Bacon and Butternut Squash Pasta

I apologize for the lack of posts - I went out of town last week to the lovely city of Norfolk, Virginia where I got to spend time with friends, attend a great conference, and eat lots of seafood! Now that I'm back in town, I have a backlog of posts that I'm excited to share with you this week!

This season, I have really latched onto butternut squash. It's by far one of my favorite winter vegetables and I can't seem to get enough of it! Costco, thankfully, sells two pound packages of already peeled and cubed butternut squash for just $3.99. Not only is it inexpensive, I don't have to risk cutting my fingers off when dicing my own!

This recipe, from Cooking Light, seems complicated and time consuming - and it is somewhat time consuming - but it's totally worth it. It's sweet, salty, creamy, and nutty all at once. Plus it makes a large quantity!

You can easily make it vegetarian by omitting the bacon and using vegetable broth. You could also use mustard greens or Swiss chard instead of the kale. I would not, however, recommend spinach as it's not as hearty.

*Money saving tip: stop by your deli for a thick piece of Gruyere to shred instead of investing in a large piece

Bacon and Butternut Squash Pasta
5 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (I used a full 2 pound package)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Cooking spray
12 ounces uncooked ziti or other short pasta
4 cups chopped kale
2 bacon slices (I used 4)
2 cups vertically sliced onion (I used chopped)
Salt and pepper
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cup crème fraîche
1/3 cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) shredded Gruyère cheese

Preheat oven to 400°.

Arrange squash on baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Drizzle with the oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss gently to combine. Bake at 400° for 20-30 minutes or until squash is tender.

Cook pasta 7 minutes or until almost al dente, omitting salt and fat. Add kale to pan during last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain pasta mixture.

Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; crumble. Add onion to drippings in pan; cook 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally.

Once the pasta is done and drained, use the same pot to bring 1 3/4 cups of broth to a boil. Combine remaining 1/4 cup broth and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and red pepper to broth. Cook 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat; stir in crème fraîche.

Combine squash, pasta mixture, bacon, onion mixture, and sauce in a large bowl; toss gently. Place pasta mixture in a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray; sprinkle evenly with cheese. Bake at 400° for 25 minutes or until bubbly and slightly browned.

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