Sometimes, super-long ingredient lists don’t seem worth it. Either they’ll cost you an arm and a leg to shop for, or they’ll take you way too long to prepare. In the case of our Tuesday night dinner, Bacon-and-Butternut Squash Pasta the long ingredient list turned out okay. I’m not saying it didn’t take a while to prep (I had to enlist B as my sous chef), but for the amount of food it made (we’ll get about six meals out of it when all is said and done), the cost was pretty cheap.
I’d originally pulled this recipe from the January issue of Cooking Light, and set it aside for an occasion when the mood was right. We decided to try it for Tuesday night’s dinner, and have the leftovers to eat on for lunches all week. Strategic food planning = money savings.
This dish was a lot of work, especially for a weeknight. You have to cube up the squash, roast it in the oven, brown off bacon, make a separate sauce, cut up some kale and garlic…I don’t mind getting my hands dirty in the kitchen, but I’m not sure I’d do this one again on a weeknight. Maybe as a Thanksgiving side dish? Sure.
It also dirtied a ton of dishes. A baking sheet, a saucepan, a skillet, an extra-large bowl, a Dutch oven, and a 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Oy. It needs some streamlining, but in the heat of cooking, I couldn’t come up with a way to do it, so I forged on.
Insert soapbox: Also, let’s chat for a minute about “light” cooking. I’m all for lighter cooking. I’m for being healthy and going for a run so that you can eat seconds without guilt and occasionally indulging in some homemade croissants because life is short. Moderation is my game. However, two slices of bacon for a 13 x 9? Really? That seemed a little skimpy to us. And when B held up 1/3 cup of Gruyere to sprinkle over the top of the 13 x 9, I laughed out loud. Surely they’re joking. We doubled it. /End of soapbox.
So here’s the recipe. It’s good—really it is. And I’d make it again with some modifications.
- 5 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash [I used 1 medium-size squash]
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Cooking spray
- 12 ounces uncooked ziti (short tube-shaped pasta), campanile, or other short pasta
- 4 cups coarsely chopped kale
- 2 bacon slices [Double this.]
- 2 cups vertically sliced onion
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth, divided
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 cup crème fraîche [I couldn’t find this and didn’t have time to make my own, so I substituted the new Philly Cooking Cream product. Seemed to work just fine. Sour cream, a usual sub for crème fraîche, can break when heated, but this product is designed for cooking.]
- 1/3 cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) shredded Gruyère cheese [Double this.]
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- Combine squash and oil in a large bowl; toss well. Arrange squash mixture in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes or until squash is tender.
- Cook pasta 7 minutes or until almost al dente, omitting salt and fat and adding kale 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.
- Bring 1 3/4 cups broth to a boil in a small saucepan. Combine remaining 1/4 cup broth and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 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.